With Christmas now a distant memory (even if I am still finding pine needles embedded in the carpet); I am now contemplating my New Years resolution list and number one on the list is don’t mix extended relatives and Christmas. It is certain that Christmas is promoted as being the time of goodwill to all men and of family and good tidings, but when even the most beloved of relatives stay as guests in your home for a week over Christmas the spirit of Christmas tends to become exhausted.

My house  guest at Christmas was a little trying and I must confess that next year I am seriously considering the option of avoiding all extended family ‘obligations’ by going overseas for the holiday period. Indeed glad tidings to all from a far seems like a jolly good idea to me, especially after housekeeping, ironing, childcare and in particular washing up practices had come under scrutiny.

serenI must say that my much loved, but somewhat frustrating relative did get me thinking about the practice of washing up. Now I must confess that I am in the habit of loading up my dishwasher and only hand wash plates with gold edging and crystal glasses etc., so it is fair to say that my hands are rarely immersed in soapy suds every day. However, my house guest was very suspicious of my dishwasher and proclaimed that she could do a better job of washing the dishes by hand. As I watched her role up her sleeves and immerse my pots and pans in a sink overflowing with suds I was transported to the days of watching television advertisements for popular brands of washing up liquid, but I had to reflect over the fact that certain chores such as hand washing have historically seen a cultural divide. In Britain one bowl of washing up water has been used to wash things with many Brits (including my house guest) failing to rinse each cleaned article of crockery etc., before putting it to dry. This habit may be born from an advertising campaign decades ago that claimed a certain brand of washing up liquid didn’t need to be rinsed, but also from the fact that most of us Brits only have a singular sink in our kitchen and do not wish to run cold water for rinsing into their ‘fresh’ and hot washing up water. Other nationalities see the lack of rinsing in many British households as puzzling and wonder why we would want to ‘eat’ traces of washing up liquid from our plates. Other cultures are a fan of rinsing after the initial wash, Americans, for example need at least two sinks and a constant supply of running water for dishwashing. Recent years have seen the cultural divide on hand washing disappear as dishwashers have been globally embraced as a time saving and more hygienic alternative to the good old fashioned washing up bowl, soapy hot water and rubber gloves. The perfect temperature for cleaning crockery is 60C (140F)  from a hygiene perspective; but this is too hot to hand wash in and so the traditional way of washing up has been relegated in favour of the hygienic dishwasher.

So my post Christmas ponder is to rinse or not to rinse? I must confess that I favour the rinsing of all my dishes as I don’t like the idea of a hint of washing up liquid with my starter, main or pud!




About Seren Charrington-Hollins

Food has always been of great importance to Seren and despite her being renowned for her historical recipe recreations, her culinary skills were not honed, in the kitchens of top restaurants, but in the home kitchen from the age of being able to hold a wooden spoon. When Seren was born her mother was taken ill and so she spent her early years being cared for by her grandmother, Minnie. This was to prove instrumental in the development of Seren’s love of cooking, for her grandmother was an accomplished cook, who’s kitchen was always awash with terrine’s, home-made pastry and traditional puddings. Minnie’s love of good food and her zest for life meant Seren’s childhood was filled with days of hedgerow picking, baking, traditional preserving and cooking recipes from the depths of a family copy of, Mrs. Beeton. She learned from an early age how to make Victorian puddings alongside elaborate noble pies and perhaps this explains her love of pastry making and the reason she won an accolade from The Great British Pie Awards this year. Today Seren has great skill in bringing historical food to life and making it accessible and understandable to the modern cook and diner. Her enthusiasm and love of historical food and British cooking is evident in her presentations and she loves to revive forgotten recipes. She recently took part in ITV1’s Country House Sunday and has given live cookery demonstrations across the country at food festivals, historical houses and castles. Trained as a herbalist and nutritionist, she has a deep understanding of improving health through food. Her interest in historic remedies and herbal folklore eventually extended to researching British food history, and reignited her early passion for cooking. Fifteen years on and Seren has amassed extensive knowledge and is now renowned for her historical food recreations and interpretations. Seren’s interest in food history does not just extend to old recipes and cooking techniques, but to ingredients and manufacturers. From the age of fourteen Seren has collected food and drink packaging from early Victorian to the 1960’s. Her collection is now extensive and provides a wonderful snapshot in time that accompanies her vast knowledge of the development of British food and drink companies throughout history. She also has a huge collection of antique kitchenalia and moulds which she uses to replicate historical recipes and portray past eras. Her training in herbalism and nutrition has not been wasted for despite her merits as a food historian and period cook she also delights in creating British Classic dishes for those with food allergies and intolerances (such as gluten and dairy intolerant). Her botanical knowledge has made her a keen wild food educator and forager that lends unusual as well as historical twists to all her cooking. There are also many points at which food and medicine intertwine throughout history and Seren is able to portray these developments and has also undertaken a lot of research into the British spice trade. To Seren historical food is not a job, but a way of life. Visit Seren's blog: Serenity Kitchen