Tuesday, April 10, 2007

easter afterglow

the boy and i share very few holidays together, what with him working in restaurants. I dont think i’ve ever seen him on Easter, if only for an hour or two. So when his sous chef asked if i wanted to work on Easter and Mother’s Day, do prep and carving station duties, i jumped at it.

the boy and i have worked together before doing catering jobs in Annapolis; and i can do what is asked of me (i am handy with a knife), so this isnt as daunting of a task as it sounds. I have a couple of chef whites and slip-on no-skid nursing shoes (really, really handy for gardening as well). And I can’t believe i’m actually going to write this – but i do like working in restaurants. Now, i used to work front-of-the-house mostly, but when i was asked to do other stuff like prep and expediting, i enjoyed that a lot more than dealing face to face with customers. I loathed waiting tables and bartending (and i did it for far, far too long; i’ve paid my dues), but the back of the house is a different world altogether. I knew when i started at a new place that i had to make friends with the guys back there: hang out with them on smoke breaks, get them pitchers of soda, bring them boozy drinks i’d snag from the bar, give them all the front of the house gossip, be their beck-and-call-girl, and basically be a spy. This pays off bigtime in more ways than one.

So back to How I Spent My Easter, which was helping feed over 750 starving Just Came From Church And Need A Stiff Drink people. I have a callus on my right hand, which hurts like a bitch. It’s right where the base of my index finger meets the top of my palm. It throbs. After 4 hours of carving roast beast, i felt like my hand was going to fall off. So i’m pretty whiney about it right now, but i’m nevertheless happy about it. this is a good thing in chefdom. A callused hand is a good hand.

I worked one of the Carving Stations with the boy (there were many set up all around the restaurant); he handled leg of lamb. Many, many legs of lamb. So we got to work together and bullshit and people watch and whisper obscenities in spanish at the Omlette Station cooks, and gesture wildly at each other when no one was looking.

However, this next thing really pissed me off. About 3 or 4 times, some kid (different kids each time) came through the line and stared at the leg of lamb. They stuck their plates out and asked, “What’s that?”. And before either the boy or I could reply, the kid’s parent snatched the kid’s plate back and said, “Oh Tommy,” (or Lacey or Jimmy or whatever), “You won’t like that. That’s lamb. You won’t like that at all. Here, let’s get you a sausage link”. So the kid, thinking he didn’t like lamb, made a face and walked away.

This is a huge disservice to children. Those kind of parents are making big mistakes. These kids are going to grow up thinking, firmly believing that they dont like lamb (and whatever other food their parents refuse to feed them). they'll travel abroad and only eat at McDonald's (you laugh, but i know people like this). And they’ll either never attempt to try lamb again ever, or one day when they’re like 35 or something finally taste it on a dare at a dinner party and wonder, Why the hell did i think i didn’t like lamb all these years?

The boy and i were fuming and cutting our eyes at each other when this type of scenario played out.

But we were happy when one kid, who came up without a parent, stuck his plate out and asked “What is that? Is it meat?”. He was told what it was, shrugged his shoulders and stuck his plate out a bit closer. We gave him some lamb, and not 15 minutes later, the kid was back for more. I am really proud of that kid. He is really going to appreciate life. I only hope that when the boy and i have kids that they’ll be that adventurous with food. I am certainly not going to tell our kids that they won’t like something until they’ve tried it, even if it is tongue or tripe (hello, andouillette!).

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