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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Requiem For A Day Dream - a quasi dinner note Original to Facebook 9/11/2010

Req·ui·em

   [rek-wee-uhm, ree-kwee-, rey-] Show IPA noun

1.Roman Catholic Church .

a.

Also called Requiem Mass . the Mass celebrated for therepose of the souls of the dead.

b.

a celebration of this Mass.

c.

a plainsong setting for this Mass.

2.

any musical service, hymn, or dirge for the repose of thedead.

Gather close my family and friends and band of shenanigan makers, for today we bid farewell to a day dream.

I have ever since being a child loved the sheer magic of turning a list of foodstuffs and ingrediatns magically into finished prepared food for myself and others. There is a near sorcerers ability in my mind to take one thing, add to it heat and time and spice and make something all the other.

I remember the first time I "cooked" - my arthritic grandmother stood nearby and watched and coached me through the simple task of scrambling my own eggs. She liked to put ketchup on hers. I still do to this day. ( Once I cracked an egg poorly and it feel onto my shoe - my Papa till his end days reminded me of the time I tried to cook on my foot. )

I remember a period when my mom had a job that lasted later than any she had had before, and on occasion I was allowed to patty out hamburgers and grill them, or maybe even mind some of the tough steaks that we got from cattle buthered from our farm.

Not all of these meals were a success, by the way. I remember one such hamburger event that I "seasoned" and "added to" that left the meat almost inedible.

But I was happy.

When it came time for that proverbial first job, that "away from the home and farm job", I landed at a barbeque place, and I loved it. The heat, the smells, the cool of the walk in freezer, the look on folks faces when they were eating a plate of barbeque and enjoying a cold Styrofoam cup of sweet tea - it was honestly on of the best High School jobs of anyone I knew. ( OK, maybe a friend had a better one, looking after a convience store and bait shop, therefor haivng an unlimited access to beer so long as the cash register was right, but that is a whole different story,)

I left that job in a typical teenaged huff of ego and lack of understanding of the real world, and the next job I took was at a Fast Food franchise. Wow. While no where the satisfaction on my part for the qualit of food, I was amazed by the modern by comparison of the kitchen, and the volumn of food that we sold. I only lasted there about 6 weeks, but I can almost recall every single shift I worked there, for reasons both good and bad.

I do not recall how it came along, but I eventually ended up working as a dish washer in a Bed and Breakfast - and finally, fully feel in love with food. I worked in the steamy, clautrophobic dishroom, skin chafed and sweat dripping down the small of my back, and did my best to keep all of the dishes out as fast as possible, that I might be able to hang out in the equally small and confined kitchen.

Soon, I was doing more prep than dish washing. Eventually, I was prepping and doing a little cooking, until I actually was sat down and offered to become an apprentice to the chef. I was ecstatic - I lived, breathed and labored for this chance.

Things went well for a while - I was making decent money, I was engaged, I was out of high school just barely - and then I came in on day to be told I was fired. No reason given besides you cannot work here any more, sorry, we release you from the terms of your contract ( I had agreed to a 5 year non competitive clause, to begin when we parted ways, so that I would not open a place in the same town ). As I was being fired I saw a new dishwasher, I knew from paries at a waiter's frat house in the back. I thought I had been dismissed to make a job for him. Now, with more life experiene and history on my side I know it was because they had ovr stepped their bounds, finacially, and could not afford my grealy improved salary. Better to cut me out, and just hire a dishwasher, move a dishwasher to prep and so on. They were out of business not toolong after, with a front page photo of deputies siezing thier antiqus and assets during a meal rush, so I call it all even.

I left that day, and within 48 hours began a career that I am still in to this day. I got into construction. I have strayed from it a time or two, but like an old timer told me, the dirt gets in your blood, and if so, you always come back to it. I do love what I do, but I have always held onto a day dream. A day dream that died yesterday, one we honor with this Funeral Mass.

See, when 17 years ago, I shook my tears from my cheeks, and thought I'm not good enough, and I got to hav a job now, I'm, getting married - I may have left the kitchen in kind, but not in mind.

The kitchen, and food in general have long been my mistress. I watch all of the cooking programming I can get. I buy cookbooks and read them front to back like a mystery novel.I read the food section of the paper first on the day it runs, before news, sports or comics. I come home from a bad day at work and without fail at some point dream of being back in a kitchen, hot , steamy pots boiling, the rattle of a kitchen aide mixer making dressing, the crashes of plates - to hear a waitress come in and say " The four top loved the prime rib, and the blonde with the banker ate all of the duck".

There was a closeness in the kitchens I have never, ever felt at any other place i have worked. There was a sense of us against the world I have never ever felt anywhere else I have ever worked.

And yesterday, I felt it. Man how I felt it. And it was not even a full blown kitchen job - just helping out a benefit plate sale - but we had three large grills cooking and warming enough barbeque for 3000 people. We had huge stock pots of beans, and bread delivery, and veg delivery, and all of the chaos I remeber - and I was simply in heaven.

Mentally. I can honestly say if t the end of the shift someone came up and offered me a simple line cooks job in a regular fare, nothing hardcore or cutting edge succesful family joint, I would have probably jumped all on it. I was that high. It was a rush - my heart beat raced all day.

But physically - here is where the death occured. I am out of shape. I have abused and misused my 35 year old body. And I felt like death at the end of the day.

I am man enough to admit I do not think I could take it if given the chance. I simply fear that my body's limitations would outweigh my desires. And that makes me sadder than most of you probably realize.

There is a part of me that waxes philosophical this morning that perhaps my role in the world of food is that of someone who is meant to enjoy all things. I mean, if not for the happy customer, who does the chef prepare food for? ( Note I say prepare - I want my chef to COOK for himself, his ego, his skill - I just want to get the best of his talents, and will, and do appreciate them. )

And I do still cling to my other day dream - that of the lucky bastard that gets to eat all manner of fine fare, and write reviews about it, and share the good and the bad with like minded folks.

That dream, I am glad to say, while limited to this small forum, is alive and well.

And I look forward to doing more of the same.

Der Day Dream of Returning To The Kitchen, I will miss and mourn you - but you are now forever more laid to rest.

Good night.

Amen.

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