Even if you are a neat, precise cook (and I am not), even if you wipe up spills when they happen and clean as you go (and I don't), cooking generates prodigious amounts of messiness, and eating is not far behind.
Food is inherently, intrinsically, essentially messy. Why do you think they call it a mess hall? The kitchen is a factory that would not pass an OSHA inspection. Bread flour flies through the air. Non-stick spray (hi, Pam!) drifts like a toxic chemical cloud. Thick tomato lava spatters the stove with fiery globs. Peanut butter clings to the knife so tenaciously that even boiling dishwasher water cannot loosen its grip.
My Kitchen of Shame is notorious, but I am putting up a good fight lately to conquer food mess and my inherent distractability. The trick, I have finally learned, is to treat the cleaning task as finite and strictly ordered, from left to right. Left to right is an arbitrary approach. I rebel against all that is arbitrary, but most order is arbitrary, and without order there is only disorder, and disorder is mess. QED. Now I clean the counters from left to right and in an hour I can get the place looking respectable.
I know that this entry is not profound. Sometimes I have to stop being profound and just clean the kitchen. It is humbling. I need some of that.