Like many people in New York City, I’ve lived in many different apartments throughout my adult life. I never thought it would happen, after renewing a one-year lease for the first time, life got harder than I could have ever imagined – I had officially lived in the same apartment for long enough that I was forced to learn how to clean an oven.
My twenties were a blur, a time free from deep cleaning and oven-related cares. It wasn’t until I turned 26 that someone explained to me how you re-light a pilot light. And cleaning an oven was a practice I had only thought was a legend, or just something old-timey housewives used to do. But I knew if I just kept switching apartments every year or two, I could never be held fully responsible for the state of the oven within it.
But something changed over the years. I moved into my own place, and I started… cooking. Did you know shit can bubble out of pans and spill onto the bottom of the oven? And did you know those spills can char and make a smoky mess the next time you turn on the oven? I was setting low-grade oven fires every other week. And that was when I told my landlord that my oven is broken and I need a new one, and she said, “The oven is not broken. The oven is dirty and you need to clean it.”
I was shocked. I’m sorry, but nobody told me that the “clean” setting on the oven actually did something. Now I know that cleaning an oven isn’t just a cool myth passed down by generations, it’s actually something you need to do in order to use an oven for more than a year. My mother never warned me about this. But I’m a person who knows how to clean ovens now.
I won’t get into the specifics here. I really don’t want to spoil one of life’s great mysteries. Suffice to say, when you know, you know.