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Daily Gullet Staff

Why I Cook

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Well, at least *somebody's interested.  :biggrin: Thanks! Oh, there's more. Lots more. Kinda surprised this post didn't generate more questions.

I actually open The Ordinary in a future installment in The Daily Gullet.

I certainly am---I've just been POWER-less for a coupla days. Big windstorm and all.

You all had a look of timeless wisdom that NOBODY would want to learn, and you'd have been played in the movie by William Holden, a much YOUNGER William Holden, with a tiny morph into Robert Mitchum every now and then, when a sun-squint and cavern-deep pronouncement needed making.

And the pictures DID add a thousand words to this piece---the faces at that moment older than they'd ever be. I'm glad to see you're so much younger now.

Glad you are POWER-full again. Hell, I was clueless at that time in my life. Trying to figure out why in the hell I was where I was and doing what I was doing.

Thanks for the interest.

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More, please !

:biggrin:

Of course, as their experience increased they learned, like all good line cooks, to hide towels in a rice bin or their lockers, up their butts – no, I take that back, not a good idea! - or behind something in the dry goods storeroom and, if asked by a fellow traveler if they had any extra towels, sin, prevaricate, lie through their teeth. This is the kind of in-the-trenches arcanum of which a beginning culinary student is blithely ignorant.

Anybody been there? :biggrin:

Where is my chorus of linecooks???!!!! Don't let the big, bad literati here scare you. :biggrin:

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All I can say is, "Please don't stop ! I LOVE your writing!"

No help on the line-cook front, however......I am an optometrist :raz:

(Now that you mention it, I've experienced similar territory -pissing among office staff, but not about towels!)

Thanks............

Kathy

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All I can say is, "Please don't stop ! I LOVE your writing!"

No help on the line-cook front, however......I am an optometrist  :raz:

(Now that you mention it, I've experienced similar territory -pissing among office staff, but not about towels!)

Thanks............

Kathy

Thanks, Doc, I have to plans to cease my scribblings. As to the line cook thing, I am surprised there are none responding as the terrible towel crisis is ongoing in every professional kitchen I've ever seen. Could it be there are no line cooks here? No ex-line cooks? I find that really difficult to believe.

Yes, I am sure every profession has its little turf/equipment squabbles - tiffs that aren't so small when one is trying to perform well.

Thanks again! :biggrin:

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Thanks, well done, and more please!

You have a remarkable knack of being in places at significant times, with significant people. It's been fascinating to read your stories... looking forward to the next installation (and, of course, any tidbits you'd care to share to keep us going until then...)

Okay, here's a tasty Ordinary tidbit for you Mama, one I didn't include in the next piece that will be running here:

The Tragic End of Sol and Rock & Roll.

I had developed a crawfish connection. These guys from the Sacramento Delta would bring them to me as long as I bought a 50-pound box. These guys - the crawfish - were big compared to the crawfish I knew in Louisiana. I knew there was a nuclear plant in the Delta and I hoped they were not spawn of that facility. They didn’t glow, anyway.

I was at the stove one afternoon when the guy arrived. He opened the kitchen door and yelled “Crawfish!” Just as I turned I saw the bottom of his cardboard box give way. 50 pounds of crawfish rained onto the tile floor. Talk about the ultimate willy-nilly. Little claws clicking on the floor. Tails flipping and flapping like crazy. They scampered away in every direction. Everyone in the building was recruited for the Great Crustacean Roundup. Tricky little bastards. They crawled under everything. It was like submariners on the docks after six months at sea - fleeing their tin can prison. Arthropodian emancipation is not a pretty thing. Floundering off in every direction to Neptune-knows-where. It was as if some vestigial memory – or premonition - told them they were scheduled to play a part, an essential element, in someone’s riparian repast and despite the unfriendly vinyl terrain they encountered this was their last chance for liberty. And they certainly took it.

We managed to corral most of them - it took some serious mudbug wrangling - but were still finding them behind and under things days later. I could hear the scurrying of tiny feet late at night as I lay in my upstairs loft. Unsettling. The furor had pretty much died down when, a week later, early in the morning, I heard a noise behind the ice cream freezer. A couple of us managed to move the freezer out a few feet from the wall. There he was, the sole survivor of the Epic Ecrevissian Escape. A miracle crawfish. He was defiantly waving his eyestalks and snapping his claws at me. He had some gonads on him - I think.

Couldn’t help but admire the little guy. I didn’t have a pet at the time. Hey, nervous Nerval had his lobster! Proust had his scallops! (Hmm, maybe I'm misremembering here, now that I think about it, they might have been cookies shaped like scallops.) So, I adopted him. Got a goldfish bowl, put in some water and rocks in the bottom of the bowl. Put his bowl on the back bar by the big brass cash register. Fed him bits of shrimp and fish. Called him Sol, short for Solomon, because I never heard him say anything stupid. I don’t know how old he was when I got him – know they can live 3-5 years – but I think his demise was premature. Sadly, his tenure at The Ordinary was not long - just a couple of months. He died one Saturday night in the midst of a loud rock and roll frenzy. Buried him in the begonia bed in back of the restaurant under the acacia tree. Yet another casualty of the Bay Area rock and roll curse that swallowed up Hendrix, Pearl and so many others.


Edited by ChefCarey (log)

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RIP, Sol.................

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Okay, here's a tasty Ordinary tidbit for you Mama, one I didn't include in the next piece that will be running here:

The Tragic End of Sol and Rock & Roll.

Shades of Woody Allen's lobster chase in "Annie Hall"...

Thankya, thankya. I spent two decades in Davis and wondered the same thing about the river critters.

And I'm no line cook, but I do have a pretty huge collection of kitchen towels... since I'm my own laundry service, I can't be too cranky when they're late.

More, more, more! I don't know why you're not getting more responses... maybe not many eGulleters read this forum? They don't know what they're missing!


Come visit my virtual kitchen.

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Okay, here's a tasty Ordinary tidbit for you Mama, one I didn't include in the next piece that will be running here:

The Tragic End of Sol and Rock & Roll.

Shades of Woody Allen's lobster chase in "Annie Hall"...

Thankya, thankya. I spent two decades in Davis and wondered the same thing about the river critters.

And I'm no line cook, but I do have a pretty huge collection of kitchen towels... since I'm my own laundry service, I can't be too cranky when they're late.

More, more, more! I don't know why you're not getting more responses... maybe not many eGulleters read this forum? They don't know what they're missing!

Yeah, maybe they just jump to their area of immediate interest and bypass The Daily Gullet. Shame - it's what got me really interested in the site. I think it's great.

Davis, ah yeah, when I first moved to CA I was thinking about becoming an oenologist. I wrote to them about correspondence courses (I was living in Berkeley) and they said no can do. I think Amerine and Winkler were still there then.

Maybe the line cooks tune out before they get deep into the dialogue. :biggrin: Mine always had a short attention span. :biggrin:

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Chef Carey - I almost fell out of my chair reading your crawfish roundoff. Thank you for livening up my evening. I actually felt sad reading about Sol's demise.


Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

"Nobody loves pork more than a Filipino"

eGFoodblog: Adobo and Fried Chicken in Korea

The dark side... my own blog: A Box of Jalapenos

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A great read, thoroughly enjoying it, can't wait for the next installment!

Thanks, Kerry. There is more on the way. I'm not really sure just how many installments yet, but I have been asked for more. I know for sure there will be at least one more after the holidays. If Maggie is around maybe she can clue us in.

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Joseph,

Quite enjoyed the piece.

Now, I'm going to have to go digging for the previous one.

I grew up near Madison, WI, another hotbed of anti-war activity.  I'm a bit younger than you; but, worked with quite a few folks who had been politically active in the 70s.  In fact, for part of the year, the produce delivery man was one of the Sterling Hall bombers.  Really nice guy.

Look forward to reading more of your further larger than life adventures <cue scary voice>INTO THE PAST</end scary voice>.

I was aware there was considerable antiwar activity in the Madison area, including the bombing that resulted in that guy's death, but I never made it up there myself. Hell, it was cold enough in Bloomington, Indiana! Nor did I ever advocate any violence.

Thanks for the kind words about my scribbles.


Edited by ChefCarey (log)

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Chef Carey,

What a blast reading your series has been. There has been mention of fewer responses that perhaps expected. I have been following this discussion faithfully but didn't add to it as I feel I am out of my league, being but a mere amateur foodie. However...

The Saga of the Terrible Towel really, REALLY made me laugh. I'm an fifty-something engineer by profession but a chef-wanna-be at heart. However, I don't have the dedication that working in a professional kitchen requires - so my extracurricular culinary endeavors (outside of my own home) are limited to volunteer cooking for a Renaissance re-enactment guild which holds a feast at noon-time - feeding only members of the guild but done "on-stage" so that the "travelers" can see such feasting. I bring my own supply of towels (and keep lots of paper towels around also) since I seem to go through them so fast. Now I know that I truly deserve to continue to see myself as an amateur since I can't imagine using less towels in my 4 hour shifts.

As an aside, I recently purchased Chef on Fire and although I have been cooking and reading cookbooks for around 40 years I have learned more than I would have ever guessed. Thank you for putting your wisdom and insight into print.

I can not wait for your next installment let alone the comments you are posting.

Porthos Potwatcher

The Unrelentling Carnivore

p.s. Porthos Potwatcher is my character name within my Renaissance guild. p.p.


Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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Chef Carey,

What a blast reading your series has been.  There has been mention of fewer responses that perhaps expected.  I have been following this discussion faithfully but didn't add to it as I feel I am out of my league, being but a mere amateur foodie.  However...

The Saga of the Terrible Towel really, REALLY made me laugh.  I'm an fifty-something engineer by profession but a chef-wanna-be at heart.  However, I don't have the dedication that working in a professional kitchen requires - so my extracurricular culinary endeavors (outside of my own home) are limited to volunteer cooking for a Renaissance re-enactment guild which holds a feast at noon-time - feeding only members of the guild but done "on-stage" so that the "travelers" can see such feasting.  I bring my own supply of towels (and keep lots of paper towels around also) since I seem to go through them so fast.  Now I know that I truly deserve to continue to see myself as an amateur since I can't imagine using less towels in my 4 hour shifts.

As an aside, I recently purchased Chef on Fire and although I have been cooking and reading cookbooks for around 40 years I have learned more than I would have ever guessed.  Thank you for putting your wisdom and insight into print.

I can not wait for your next installment let alone the comments you are posting. 

Porthos Potwatcher

The Unrelentling Carnivore

p.s. Porthos Potwatcher is my character name within my Renaissance guild.  p.p.

Man, you can add any time! I'm not out of anybody's league - well, just the League of Women Voters (god knows, I tried.) Oh, yeah, The Redheaded League, too. When I was a teenager I was even in a bowling league - one last, vain effort in a search for culture in Evansville, Indiana.

Yep, the "towel crisis" is one of those seemingly little things ( to an outsider,) that can lead to mayhem and murder. There are many others - the wars between kitchen and dining room staff and - even more internecine - the strife between day and evening shifts in the kitchen. Some of these tales will follow.

Thanks for the kind words about my book.

Say hi to Athos and Aramis for me. (You guys make a nifty candy bar.)

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:biggrin:

HEllo, chef Carey , its Scott from your spring 06 semester I just completed the excerpt about the ordinary and I have to tell you once again you have totally entertained me as you had done for 10 weeks at the beginning of this year...You are a wonderful mentor and storyteller, you have given life and humor over to many .......THANKS...... Scott C.

:biggrin:

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:biggrin:

      HEllo, chef Carey ,  its Scott from your spring 06 semester I just completed the excerpt about the ordinary and I have to tell you once again you have totally entertained me as you had done for 10 weeks at the beginning of this year...You are a wonderful mentor and storyteller, you have given life and humor over to many .......THANKS......    Scott C. 

                                                        :biggrin:

Thanks, Scott. Hope I taught you a little about cooking, too. :wink:

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:biggrin:

      HEllo, chef Carey ,  its Scott from your spring 06 semester I just completed the excerpt about the ordinary and I have to tell you once again you have totally entertained me as you had done for 10 weeks at the beginning of this year...You are a wonderful mentor and storyteller, you have given life and humor over to many .......THANKS......     Scott C. 

                                                         :biggrin:

Thanks, Scott. Hope I taught you a little about cooking, too. :wink:

Yes chef you did and greatful I am, if I had the money to do again I would simply because you are a wonderful instructor, as is madam chef elaine .... I am looking forward to someday coming by for a visit, but who really knows when that may be.. Hope you have a good christmas.....

ALLONS MANGER

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:biggrin:

      HEllo, chef Carey ,  its Scott from your spring 06 semester I just completed the excerpt about the ordinary and I have to tell you once again you have totally entertained me as you had done for 10 weeks at the beginning of this year...You are a wonderful mentor and storyteller, you have given life and humor over to many .......THANKS......     Scott C. 

                                                         :biggrin:

Thanks, Scott. Hope I taught you a little about cooking, too. :wink:

Yes chef you did and greatful I am, if I had the money to do again I would simply because you are a wonderful instructor, as is madam chef elaine .... I am looking forward to someday coming by for a visit, but who really knows when that may be.. Hope you have a good christmas.....

ALLONS MANGER

Thanks again, Scott. Happy holidays to you, too.

(Disclaimer: I promise I didn't pay nim a nickel for these comments. :biggrin: )

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Hi Chef: I really have enjoyed this article and your "tidbits" from your past.

I can relate to the "terrible towel" story. When I first started in the business one of the first lessons I learned was how to stockpile side towels in unique hiding places so that I was never caught by the Chef with out a clean one. Punishment for not having a side towel or God forbid being caught "abusing" a side towel usually warranted some dirty kitchen job....you know, grease trap duty or cleaning the hood filters. As an aside....I worked in a place that provided our chef jackets/pants. The laundry would come in in the morning so the lunch shift would have first crack at the unifroms that came in. The savvy among us knew that if you worked a night shift you needed to stash an extra set of uniforms whenever you could so that the lunch guys didn't get all the best uniforms...everyone wanted to avoid the ones with missing buttons and busted zippers. Since those early days I have had to "referee" many a line cook spat over side towels and uniforms.

Great stuff chef...keep it coming.


Lefty Ruggiero to Donnie Brasco: "Anywhere you go, all around the world, all the best cooks are men."

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Yeah, when I was night chef at Scott's in San Francosco, they provided all the coats, hats and pants. Notice that "night" part. The linen had been totally cherry-picked by the time I got to it. I don't think I had a pair of pants that fit the entire time I was there. I wear a 46 coat and don't think I ever got one of those, either. We had a towel stash in the chef's office - shared by 4 of us.

Thanks for the kind words. I was beginning to wonder where all those who are/were line cooks went! You're the only one who has admitted to it so far. :biggrin:

Hey, aren't you supposed to be in hiding somewhere? :wink:

Hi Chef: I really have enjoyed this article and your "tidbits" from your past.

I can relate to the "terrible towel" story. When I first started in the business one of the first lessons I learned was how to stockpile side towels in unique hiding places so that I was never caught by the Chef with out a clean one. Punishment for not having a side towel or God forbid being caught "abusing" a side towel usually warranted some dirty kitchen job....you know, grease trap duty or cleaning the hood filters. As an aside....I worked in a place that provided our chef jackets/pants. The laundry would come in in the morning so the lunch shift would have first crack at the unifroms that came in. The savvy among us knew that if you worked a night shift you needed to stash an extra set of uniforms whenever you could so that the lunch guys didn't get all the best uniforms...everyone wanted to avoid the ones with missing buttons and busted zippers. Since those early days I have had to "referee" many a line cook spat over side towels and uniforms.

Great stuff chef...keep it coming.

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Thanks for the kind words. I was beginning to wonder where all those who are/were line cooks went! You're the only one who has admitted to it so far. 

My days as a Line Cook have been over for some time...I'm in the corporate world of restaurants now...which is a bit easier on the head, back, knees.....etc, you get the point. I do miss the "rush" of being on the line as the printer spits out the chits and the line fills with orders. Chefs and cooks are quite a sub-culture aren't we! As much as I dismissed AB's KC as so much over the top BS, it did touch on the unique character needed to work in the fast paced environment of a busy restaurant kitchen.

I really look forward to more of your story.

Thanks Again.


Lefty Ruggiero to Donnie Brasco: "Anywhere you go, all around the world, all the best cooks are men."

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I would have responded to the towel question, but since I wasn't a line cook but rather an executive chef for a longer period of time, I forgot what it was like.

Thanks for the memories, though.

Karen

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