My mother is the reason I feel so strongly about aprons, mostly because I have no real memory of her cooking anything without one. Even though she is an impeccably clean woman who rarely drops food on her body when she cooks or eats, this immaculateness is due in part to the fact that before she begins cooking a meal, she straps on an apron. Having watched her do this countless times in my childhood and adult life means that, for me, cooking a meal without wearing an apron feels wrong. An apron is essentially a bib for adults, and I am nothing more than an adult baby, incapable of eating food or preparing it without getting some of it on my person.
Cooking doesn’t have to be messy, but it often is. Stir that belching pot of pasta sauce with vigor and you might end up with a spot of marinara on your blouse, even if you were being careful and keeping a safe distance. Bacon grease splatters; beets turn everything they touch a brilliant purplish-red. Wiping your hands on the kitchen towel repeatedly is nice, but the towel gets gross, requiring you to wash and replace it often. Using paper towels with impunity as if money grows on trees and the environment doesn’t matter is a joy I will take from no one, but an apron is an unheralded kitchen necessity that I do not want to live without.
An apron is always there for you to serve as a napkin and an oven mitt, in case you cannot find either when you desperately need it. Wiping your hands on your pants when you get schmutz on them in the kitchen is a quick fix, but then your pants are covered in crap, and also, don’t do that! The kitchen towel over the shoulder is a natty look favored by Top Chef contestants and the amateur home cook alike. When there is no apron to be found, the shoulder towel works, but the feeling of lank, damp cotton on the shoulder in the warm summer months is almost as bad as underboob sweat. An apron covers the front of your entire body, which is important in the kitchen, but even more so when the cooking you’re doing is en plein air, as is custom and tradition over the summer holiday weekends.
As an enthusiastic home cook, I have undertaken a variety of cooking “projects” over the past few months, all of which were in the baking realm. Generally, baking is stressful because following instructions is not my strong suit and also, it’s very messy. When shooting a video for this very website about the joys of making whipped coffee, I opted to not wear the crinkled apron I own for no reason other than vanity. By dint of a miracle, I did not get little coffee splatters all over my white shirt. The next time I made the coffee, I did not wear the apron and found myself covered in poo-colored splatter. The third time, I suited up. When I looked away from the mixing bowl but for two seconds to yell at the cat for licking the butter, the coffee splatters that made their way to my bosom did not ruin my shirt. Instead, they were absorbed by my best friend, the apron.
Novelty aprons that say KISS THE COOK exist for funsies but also because no one wants to get their sick 4th of July outfit dirty when they’re grilling brats and burgers for the kids by the pool. Also, if you’re not good at the grill but really want to use the grill,
I feel an apron provides an extra layer of protection against spattering fat and whatever else could fly up off that thing. Aprons occasionally come with pockets in the front, which are helpful for holding your phone, the tongs, an extra beer, or a small snack. They are necessary and utilitarian. Get an apron, grill a hot dog, stick a beer can up the buttocks of a chicken for cooking on the grill, and please, have a lovely weekend.