(After much debate on whether or not to post this story, from the deep, dark depths of kitchen reality, several kitchen warriors I know have urged me to do so. It is a friendly reminder that we rarely have the kitchen to ourselves.)

1

Topolino sounds kinder, and even adorable, like the mouse we discovered whimpering in an open jar of ancient cooking oil seconds after we’d taken our seats at the freshly laid dinner table. A shy tap-tap stirred our glances away from the beckoning plates; crispy rice topped with bok-choy and grated carrots, wilted with a hot bacon-maple-dijon vinaigrette (recipe coming soon). Bobby leaped from the stool exclaiming “lizard!” One would think the fresh powder outside would surpress such Nicaraguan reactions. But I had already seen the tiny paws rapping at the glass, and knew instantly. I was calm and immediately sorry for the poor critter.

Despite our sorrow and utter confusion, we couldn’t resist having a bite. Of our dinner, that is (though Bobby did note that topolino was already greased for the frying pan – gasp!). It felt rude and unkind to the mouse, but we were so hungry and eager to taste. I was also staving off a critical decision: adopt a new house pet or release it into the wild (and then count how long topolino takes to find its way back before escaping the jaws of another bacon-lover).

My mind reeled back to Pixar’s greatest foodie film, Ratatouille. But of course! This mouse was cooking soup in the kitchen while we slept! I watched him closely, crouching on its hind legs while licking the bacon grease off his paws and whiskers. A mini-chef. Of course it might have been a mini-her-chef. He, she, watched me longingly. We connected, we really did! I could hear its thoughts coursing and troubled between its magnificent luck (“Yum, putrified bacon bits!”), extreme stupidity (“How on earth did I fall into this jar, right in front of their eyes!”), total discomfort (“I am sopping wet with oil”) and plead for help (“Get me out of here!”).

We couldn’t quite gather how the mouse had found it’s way into the jar. I own my OCD-inclinations, and will stand firm in my testimony that there have been no mouse pellets in our kitchen since we moved in (Well, there was just that one time I may have found one in an obscure corner of a cabinet. Just one!). The only food strewn about carelessly is a box of neatly packaged clementines and one banana.

Bobby and I negotiated: he would release the mouse at the very back of the yard near the woodpile where it might find some shelter. The jar would be promptly disposed in the recycling bin. I would wash the dishes. This seemed like an obvious and easy deal, but the sponge and my OCD had arranged for other plans. Before I could stop I was pulled, nearly lurched about the kitchen (sponge first!) into every cabinet and over every spot of counter surface.

It is now nearly midnight and I am just beginning to work on the slides for a presentation I’m delivering onClean Food. Despite my sandy eyes, I can say that every jar in my kitchen is now precisely labeled, every cap is twisted extra tight, and I’ve disposed of a few lurking biscuits (in my belly) in case any topolino comes snooping about again sending me into a state of fright and despair! I hope he, or she, lives.

PS. I have asked my OCD why we had an exposed and murky pot of bacon grease on the counter. No response yet.

Humor aside. Get down to business and mouse-proof your kitchen: Mice in the Kitchen! Have you Dealt with Mice?

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