也是廚房之歌──抹布頌

這篇「抹布頌」雖然可以說是「廚房之歌」的序曲,但是不知道為什麼,編書時我們並沒有把它放進來。

文章寫於四年前,那時Abby要升高三。通常我要她翻譯我的生活短文總是有「目的」的,大概怕她把我的生活叮嚀當成馬耳東風吧!如果翻譯,得看得更仔細些,所以常常跟孩子有這種小練習。

把它補在「廚房之歌」的花園版,照片則是原本拍給書本那篇「廚房裡的耶誕味」。

抹布頌 In Praise of Rags

我每個月往返於新加坡 和台灣之間照顧家庭和工作,回到台南店裡,工讀的小朋友們總會送我一份“小禮物”──滿紙袋的髒抹布或地墊。我把這些抹布都帶回家裡洗衣間的水槽中分類泡洗,然後在南台灣晴麗的日照裡為它們一條條做日光浴。洗衣間是我廚房之樂的延伸地,再髒的抹布也能在我潔白磁磚砌起的洗滌槽中脫去污垢,我喜歡從這種簡單的勞務裡體會傳統生活的快樂。

Every month I commute between Singapore and  Taiwan, juggling family duties and work. Whenever I return to Tainan, the part-time students who work in our restaurants would always welcome me with a little “gift” – a full bag of dirty rags or mats. I would take everything back to the laundry room at home and divide them up for soaking. Then, under the brilliance of that southern Taiwanese sun, I would lay them out one by one to enjoy a sunbath. The laundry room provides an extension to the joy I feel in the kitchen, for even the dirtiest rag could shed its stains in my white-brick sink. I like experiencing the happiness of a traditional lifestyle that stems from simple labor.

曬乾後的抹布是酥脆的,有著烘乾機永遠不能給予的自然新鮮感,我架起我那堅實的老爺燙衣板,一條條整燙素色的、格子布的抹布,再一落落分給慶中店和凱旋店。抹布裝進紙袋前,我總會好好看看它們,想著這些親手洗燙的抹布在我離家時,能不能為我捎一份心意到店裡去?

The rags are crisp after sun-dried, with freshness impossible to obtain using a drier. I would set up my old-fashioned yet sturdy ironing board to iron out every plain or checkered rag, and drop them off at the Chin-Jong and Kai-shang store afterwards. Before I bag them again, I would always take a good look, wondering if these hand-washed and ironed rags would emit a glow of my thoughtfulness for the stores in the days when I am away.

從小我就深知抹布的種種好處,它們不只幫助我們擦乾抹淨許多可愛的角落,抹布也是廚房生活的一種飾物和樂趣。我有許多抹布,細白棉布、鏽上可愛小圖案的長方斤掛在洗手間擦手;各式格子的大小抹布用來襯墊待乾的器物;蓬鬆吸水的毛巾抹布放在廚房、純白不織布的方巾用來濕擦爐台櫃子。不同的抹布各司其職,清洗的時候也分盆浸泡,所以一條抹布常常可以用上很多年還非常好看。不只好看,我想我為家庭和工作所付出的快樂時光,也一定停格在那一方方的織縫與布紋裡了。

I have known the various benefits of rags since my childhood: not only do they assist us in wiping clean many adorable corners, but rags are also ornaments in the kitchen where they add the ingredient of fun. I have lots of rags: white cotton ones sewn with cute little patterns for drying hands in the bathroom, all sorts of checkered cloths that come in difference sizes for padding containers as they dry, puffy water-absorbing towels in the kitchen to wipe hands with, as well as snow white pieces of unwoven fabric for cleaning stoves and cupboards. Each rag assumes its befitting job, so in cleansing they must be separated into different buckets for soaking. This way, a rag can often be burdened for many years and still look marvelous! Most of all, I believe all the happy times I put in for my family and career are preserved in those squares of textile