Dangerspouse Rides Again

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Garage - Track

Aug. 12, 2004 - 7:11 a.m.



(Here's the entry I was in the middle of when it struck me how dully predictable I'd become.)


I was all set yesterday to sit my plush computer ass down in my plush computer chair in my tastefully appointed computer/laundry room and type a scathing rebuttal to all the people who left notes calling me "accident prone", when I had an accident.

Shit. This is gonna take some explaining.

See, back around my sophomore year at Prestigious U. I became both pathologically jaded and terminally impoverished. Too stupid to realize that by soldiering on I would remedy each, I decided to take a 2 year sabbatical to pursue what I thought I preferred - cooking. Why 2 years? Well at the time the Culinary Institute of America required that much experience in a profesional kitchen before they would consider your application. I figured I'd work in the field for that long, then if I liked it enough after two years I would enroll.

As luck would have it, my mom was friends with a CMC who owned a restaurant near the County Seat in Paterson NJ, and he agreed to take me on as an apprentice.

This is a rather odd location for a fine French restaurant at first glance. Inner-Paterson is akin to Inner-Medellin Columbia, except that Paterson has more criminals. And smack dab in the center of town is the Passaic County Courthouse. Because of the volume of human garbage processed there, more lawyers than will be attending the Republican National Convention swarm here daily like flies to shit (I tried to think of a more original analogy, but this oldy really is the most apt). Now these lawyers have to take lunch somewhere, but are loathe to leave the heavily fortified DMZ immediate to the courthouse. So to service their fearful but monied palates, a number of fine dining bistros line the block surrounding that pollution stained marble building.

Every single one of them closes at 2pm. Lawyers don't live in Paterson and wouldn't think of returning there for dinner. The locals don't frequent any establishment that requires them to wear shoes. So as soon as the last pinstriped suit hurries back to his client (who is wearing his good wifebeater for the ocassion), the blast doors go down and the next bottle of Chateau Petrus will not be decanted until 11 the next morning.

Three hours for lunch, that's all these restuarants are open.

They make a fucking mint.

I showed up at the CMC's place 4am on a Monday morning. That's when all the prep work starts; making stocks, peeling veggies, starting the garde mange, etc. I was to begin my training as "Prep Boy". Talk about from the ground up - my first station was underground, in the root cellar. I was hoisted a 200 lb. sack of fresh spinach and told to peel the stem off the back of each leaf, because they're bitter when cooked. I felt like Ralph Macchio in "The Karate Kid" Stem on...stem off...stem on...stem off. For HOURS. And if I thought THAT was bad, I was next presented with a crate of garlic heads and told to peel every single clove. Aside from the residual smell that still seems to eminate from me, garlic oil in that quantity burns like hell if it gets in any cuts on your hands. And we always had cuts on our hands.

After several weeks of doing nothing but prep I was led, blinking and pale, into the light of the kitchen proper. There I was instructed as though I'd never heard of a stove before. He showed me how to hold a knife, then how to cut and chop with it. How to hold a whisk, ladles, strainers, and all the other tools of the craft. Literally, how to boil water. (Hint: use heat.)

I was somewhat indignant they would assume I was that inept, having been cooking at home since I was 4. But...it turns out I was that inept. Learning at my mother's knee may have made me a decent home cook, but that's still a far cry from the standards, speed and consistancy expected of a pro.

(This is where I realized I was being fatuous and predictable, and abandoned ship. The point of the story was going to be that I was making a "chiffonade" of basil with my deadly sharp chef's knife when Casey the Wonder Corgi started barking at me to play SpikeyBall. I was still mostly deaf from the tire explosion and didn't hear him. He got frustrated and jumped up against my right leg, hitting just at the knee joint. This buckled my leg *just* as I was on the downstroke of the knife, twisting my left hand into its path. There wasn't even any pain at first, but when I looked at the cutting board after picking myself off the floor there was an unfamiliar pink bit of meat on top of the pile of herbs. I had lopped the tip of my left thumb off! That's when my left foot started to feel warm. My foot...? Turns out there are an awful lot of blood vessels in the tip of your thumb, and with my hand at my side they were all gushing my precious fluids straight down onto my sock now that there was no tip to stop them. Considering it was maybe only a half inch square bit of Dangerbody that got seperated, it was an impressive torrent. Anyway, I took a couple of pics. The first one shows my immediate panicked reaction - a half a roll of gauze and enough tape to patch the Titanic back up. However in the time it took me to grab the camera and press the shutter, blood was already starting to seep through. The bleeding didn't stop for THREE DAYS. The second pic is the tip itself, showing a bit of the nail that was also chopped off in the process (the knife went through the nail first, and kept going through the rest of the thumb afterwards). This pic is of interest to me mostly because it shows the crappy Macro capability of my otherwise terrific new digital camera.

Ok, enjoy the graphic depictions of my wounds. I'll be back with hopefully less regrettable shit later. Thanks to everyone who left me such nice/funny/snarky notes - you're all great. Even if I haven't responded yet. Ciao!)


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