Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
alacarte

One-Armed Mirepoix

Recommended Posts

Thanks so much, alacarte! It wasn't easy for me to come out of the closet, so to speak, but the response to the article has been great. A bunch of food writers and other food industry folks have sent me emails revealing that they have also had to struggle with disability and disease. And all of them are still cooking.


JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great article, JJ.

I couldn't help suspecting somehow that waiters who doubt your ability to use chopsticks don't also question your ability to open up your wallet and pay the check... Though if you had a really condescending experience, I suppose you could give that a try.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will take any oportunity to tell this story... I was dining many years ago in a steak house in one of the Connecticut casinos. A 30ish man and an older woman were seated near us, he had no arms. He was fitted with pincer like hand replacements. This man managed to eat his soup and appetizer on his own, and then a steak was presented to him. After it was presented to him a second staffer set up a bus tray sharpened his knife and carved the steak tableside. It was then replated and presented again. If I ever need someone to cut my steak for me I want it done just like that.

tracey


The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

garden state motorcyle association

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks so much, alacarte! It wasn't easy for me to come out of the closet, so to speak, but the response to the article has been great. A bunch of food writers and other food industry folks have sent me emails revealing that they have also had to struggle with disability and disease. And all of them are still cooking.

People can be amazingly resilient, adaptable and strong. Thanks for publicly sharing your story, JJ.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

do you think that if you were to magically grow a second arm tommorow that it would inhibit your performance in the kitchen or improve it? i know of a cook that's blind. he can smell when a steak is burning. he can feel the doneness of anything he can hear people coming his way, and can taste the slightest difference in two "identical" sauces. when asked the same question he replied that if he got his sight back that it would probably inhibit his performance which i can totally understand. the only thing he can't do is check if the plate is smudged.


bork bork bork

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a great story, the "Flipper Arm" part made me laugh out loud. When I was working in Atlantic City for Trump, I did a food show. Harrahs had a booth next to us and there was a young kid in a wheelchair, in chef whites. We were busy setting up and didn't think much of it. When they had their equipment set up and they were ready to start their prep, his chair suddenly started changing (the best comparison I can use is one of those "Transformer" toys that we had as kids). He went from the sitting position to a full supported upright one, and from somewhere a cutting board with a full knife holder had swung around in front of him. It was really great to see, another lesson about wills and ways (and some cool technology thrown into the mix).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alacarte, your article made me laugh a lot....and wince a little. Flipper arm?!

Someone actually said this to you? And being denied chopsticks? I deal with this sort of stupidity occasionally. My youngest child is autistic....apparently if you don't speak much you must not be able to hear either. People he doesn't know are always shouting at him as though he is deaf or quite stupid.

I also admire your confidence with Indian buffets. With 2 normally sized and functioning arms I always manage to wear some butter chicken or chickpea curry after I eat at one. Maybe you're half as clumsy as I am. (Bad joke, sorry :biggrin: )

You seem to be pretty comfortable with how you're made.......

I don't think I'd handle all of the solicitousness and fussing as graciously as you do. All this fuss on your behalf actually has nothing to do with making you more confortable....it stems from other peoples discomfort.

Anyway, great article, thanks for sharing your experiences.


If only I'd worn looser pants....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

JJ, I loved this article. You had me from the title, which still makes me laugh. A few years ago I spent several months without the use of my left hand due to an injury, and the only cooking I could manage during that time involved heating up frozen entrees in a microwave. I never realized until then just how much of a two handed occupation it was, or how facing an onion with a knife in one's only functioning hand causes one to reconsider the wisdom of the entire endeavor.

LOVED your vision of what being a food writer might entail. Hey, if you find out how to make a living writing about cheese from that sunlit office in Paris, do let me know. I want one of those jobs, too. :smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent article. Kudos to you for dealing with other people's discomfort, rudeness and outright stupidity with such grace and humor.


Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm so glad you all liked the article! I had always wanted to write something about my arm, but I wasn't sure whether anyone would relate to my struggles. But it seems that everyone has, or knows someone who has, had to battle with life's everyday tasks because of some disability or another.

Harrahs had a booth next to us and there was a young kid in a wheelchair, in chef whites. ... his chair suddenly started changing (the best comparison I can use is one of those "Transformer" toys that we had as kids).  He went from the sitting position to a full supported upright one, and from somewhere a cutting board with a full knife holder had swung around in front of him.

Now this is incredible! How do we all get one of those?

I thought about people like this while writing the article, worrying the whole time that I was unfairly comparing my situation to theirs. It was tough to strike the right balance in the article between complaining about my arm but still making it clear that I know that I'm very lucky to be as able as I am.

My youngest child is autistic....apparently if you don't speak much you must not be able to hear either.  People he doesn't know are always shouting at him as though he is deaf or quite stupid.

I am constantly forgetting that the people I meet don't have a clue why I'm missing an arm or what I'm capable of. I'm just so used to my disability that I mistakenly assume that people are immediately as comfortable with it as I am. But then when I'm their position--when I meet someone in a wheel chair, say--I'm just as clueless and awkward as the people I make fun of!

I bookmarked your site, JJ!  I want to go back when I have more time and read.  I think I have found a new favorite.  Love food writing, love humor - perfect fit!  alacarte, thanks for showing this to us!

Thank you again for the kind words! The site, I must say, is not mine but David Leite's, a fabulous food writer and a member here. He encouraged my writing this article, and I'm glad he did. Thanks, David!


JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

JJ,

I also bookmarked your site, - its great! The recipes are beautiful! Well done putting together such a wonderful collection.

Patricia

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

JJ, I broke my right arm while I was 7.5 months pregnant, and delivered my baby in April while still wearing a cast. The experience gave me a newfound appreciation for the struggles with the mechanics of cooking somebody with access to only one arm might experience. (I'm right-handed, which didn't help the situation much. My left hand got really tired really easily, especially at first.) I've healed up mostly now--still have trouble carrying heavy things with my right arm, but that's about it--but it still makes me really impressed with how people learn to adapt to their bodies' capabilities rather than allowing this sort of thing to keep them down. Kudos to you!

I figured out how to use chopsticks with my left hand during the 2 months I was in the cast, so the idea that somebody who'd only had one arm his whole life might not be able to use chopsticks strikes me as especially absurd.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I LOVED this piece, and hope it will be followed by MANY more. It was a tale told matter-of-factly, with good humour and great wit.

It brought lovely memories of one of the favourite people of my childhood, a young schoolteacher who "roomed" with an elderly neighbor. Miss VanDeventer was a cheerful, smiling, charming young woman, always dressed in the prettiest clothes, hair and nails perfectly done, and seemed to take no thought whatever to her missing limb. Children LOVED her, flocked around her like pigeons in the park, and seemed to be the only ones NOT to offer her unwanted assistance at every turn. We just basked in her smile and it never occurred to us that she might be in any way different from all the other teachers, except in her gentle temperament and welcoming manner.

She was in a constant whirlwind of social activities, chairing committees and traveling here and there, and had a steady procession of ardent young men at her feet. Every couple of evenings, a car would arrive, an eager swain leaping out to go to her door. They would emerge in a cloud of Shalimar, get into the car, and whisk off to who-knew-what wonderful entertainment and dining experience.

I don't suppose she ever did cook at that time, as her landlady had a long-time, marvelous cook in her boardinghouse kitchen.

But whatever she did, wherever she is today, I still think of her and wish her well. She was a lovely person, a complete, kind, INTERESTING human being, and her goodness and sweet memory are still with me.

I thank you for the memory, and for the wonderful glimpse into your own life; it was well-written and conveyed an insight beyond the mere words. I look forward to all your posts and articles, cheese reviews included.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JJ, I broke my right arm while I was 7.5 months pregnant, and delivered my baby in April while still wearing a cast.

Oh my, what a time to break your arm. I know the baby probably has you pretty busy, but if you have some free time, could you write me a manual on one-armed child care? Someday I'll need it! :smile:

Does anyone know of any companies that sell custom-made cooking contraptions designed for people with disabilities?


JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JJ, I broke my right arm while I was 7.5 months pregnant, and delivered my baby in April while still wearing a cast.

Oh my, what a time to break your arm. I know the baby probably has you pretty busy, but if you have some free time, could you write me a manual on one-armed child care? Someday I'll need it! :smile:

Does anyone know of any companies that sell custom-made cooking contraptions designed for people with disabilities?

Really odd thing, JJ...I did a web search for "cooking with disabilities" to see if I could maybe find some cool equipment website for you and more than half of the links went back to egullet! Hope someone else has some info for you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Does anyone know of any companies that sell custom-made cooking contraptions designed for people with disabilities?

Here's a link of Independent Living Tips for Cooking and Dining that lists some vendors. Most of them have toll-free phone numbers, but the site doesn't list any webpages.


SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

JJ, I started a thread about one-handed cooking here. There are some links in that thread to equipment that may help the one-handed cook. I ended up using my Cuisinart and an OXO pizza wheel to do a lot of my cutting...or enlisting my husband to do a lot of the dirty work. My standards for cutting lowered significantly during that time, and I didn't eat things like steak that must be cut as they are eaten.

Now that I have a baby on my hands, I still cook one-handed--'cause I have to hold him with my other hand! :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...