A bunch of the joys of watching food television are the similarities that it shares with professional wrestling. The charismatic anti-hero that nobody likes but gets things done. The grimacing chef that knows their shit but has a temper like lava. Many professional cooks have worked for a bomb-dropping, short-fused, inconsiderate motherfucker with a golden touch for food. After watching Chef Ramsay decimate some stupid shit I suspect many cooks go into the bathroom and practice their own boss-roll in the mirror, like practicing your Clint Squint after marathoning Sergio Leone films.
In real life, however, nobody likes a tyrant. Nobody likes a baby either. I worked for a big guy with a temper once. What he lacked in technical proficiency he made up for in verbal abuse. When he got stressed he'd push you off your station, call you a retard, and act big while he frantically stirred a reheated soup. I had some authority in that kitchen, and when cooks would come so close to walking out of the back door in the middle of service, they would come to me for some piece of mind. What I would tell them was to picture him naked in the early light of morning, his fat rolls jigging every which way while he frantically masturbated his tiny penis. After they stopped laughing they would come back to work, suddenly feeling sorry for the dinosaur that wrote their paycheque.
Its considered common-sense in a customer service job that no matter how stupid the customer is it is still your job to smile until your smoke break. Somehow it is considered acceptable to exhibit every kind of immature, anti-social behavior in a kitchen. I'm not sure if its in emulation of what the "big chefs" do, but you see a surprising number of temper tantrums in the industry, especially by people that should know better. When a cook tosses a pan against the wall in a fit of rage because of some fuck up, it doesn't make them look cool. Nobody feels sympathizes with them, and nobody respects them more because of their static-release of testosterone.
Many of the best cooks I've ever seen, the most proficient chefs, the people I respect the most, can take way more shit than anyone else. While they're still sailor-mouthed, white-linen samurais, the amount of patience they display is incredible. Imagine, one of your lines is shitting the bed, your sautee guy is having a nervous breakdown, he's missing your calls, and you're being asked to sort out a three-chit server error, all the while chits still flood in like a broken levee. Do you break down? Do you start throwing shit? No, you tell your sautee guy to get on what needs to go on; you figure out the server error and act accordingly, and you figure out what's going on with the back-line that's making them suck. The only way out is through. At the end of service you drink a couple of beers.
So when I see or hear about some idiot with a big ego throwing a pan and walking off line because they had "had enough" that night, I just feel sorry for their disgraceful ass. Its a hard world and unless you proceed with grace and precision, it will chew you up without thinking twice.
Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Large white flakes descend upon the sumacs, the apples, across the cobalt sky, blanketing fields and houses. From North a wind-whipped mendicant breaks the horizon. The squirrels are fat. Old country emigres finish the last round of preserves. The insipid city-folk wander the market, shivering in mini-skirts, with three-inches of snow on the tables. "Do you have any cucumbers?" they ask.
The mendicant lifted his arms, hands wielding his mortar and his pestle, flanked by his serpent and his eagle, his voice rang out from the cusp of a storm cloud:
Behold, partakers of Campbells' horrible soup! The frost has taken every last fruit. Kale and brussel sprouts stand alone in the empty fields. Yes, they are frozen. Yes, they are fine with that. You, who have wasted your spring, summer, and fall eating California microgreens, rotting California strawberries, Vidalia onions from the State of Georgia, corn the product of Ohio, potatoes from Iowa, melons and scallions from Mexico: yes, you, oblivious fool to the seasons, consuming death while your wealth spoiled in the fields! How did you become this way?
Idiots, content with the sub-par job others will do for you. Afraid of work. Worst of all creatures: when the sun idles about the sky in the peak of summer, and your neighbor picks plump, ripe tomatoes from the vine you say: "Someone in Italy will dry my tomatoes." Cucumbers writhing about, growing greater in size everyday, and you rush not to make your pickles. What is left for you? You, who with your own hands could simply craft what is good when it is good into a delicious preserve, will spend enormous amounts on a soft, factory dill pickle.
Can a judge condemn a person ignorant of their own crime? Does the blood not speak from the knife? What skills may have been mastered by your great grandparents, what may have been responsible for carrying forward your own pitiful line, appear to you like an ancient language, incomprehensible to the eye, unspeakable to the tongue. You are spoiled by the supermarket, by the high-ceilings, the long aisles peopled by products from a colourful oligopoly. You buy a stalk of brussel sprouts, now, in the dawn of December, for $6.99 imported from Salinas, California, and bat not an eye. You are warped from your climate of falsehoods.
Morons! Horribly lost, you panic that Sriracha may be in short supply, not knowing how simple it is to make a better sauce.You see nothing clearly. Can you identify a single tree? Have you ever foraged in a spring-time bog? Eaten the mustard that lines the ditches?
I caution, for the time is changing, and the ways of old will return on the heels of great catastrophe, not to treat the seasons as a vessel for your leisure. They have existed before you, and by their hands, you could be smitten like a road-side possum. Turn your back to the false gods of Kellogs, Post, Campbells, Nestle; turn your back to the importers of the fruits of your backyard, grow weary of fog of your consumerism. Bait the yeast! Befriend helpful bacteria of beneficent fermentation! Read the seasons, wisely choose local fruits and vegetables, and most of all, be ready! The longest winter stretches forth from this moment. Will it breed a Mensch stronger and wiser than the incumbent sleepwalkers? A Mensch unable to pass a field of thyme and mint in ignorance? A Mensch closer to nature and her dithyrambic chorus? Or will they answer only to Catastrophe and her redolent phalanx?
Thus spake Preparathustra.