Saturday, January 22, 2011

It's not a house, it's a home!

"Top of the evening to you Bob", she said. "I like your jam".

With limbs folded in tight grasshopper, I woke in JJ's lady bed to a soft buzzing. Bees? No, can't be. Beers? Nope. Spray? No, can't be on the Spray (no fallen logs to be found). Dad, hello? My phone. Shit! My phone! My phone!

I leaped out, quick as light. And then I remembered this part of that one Bob Dylan song (see below, just a scrap of a really good musical story) that has just been within me these days (while thinking of Willa, of James, of Giles and her girls, of Dirt Dog Lyle [where the hell did that cat get to, anyway?] of so many, a million faces reminding me who I should be writing letters to; thinking of you all! Walking fast with different parts of people smashing to the daily surface of thought).

And now, a part of a great song called "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest" by Bob Dylan, my no. 1 track listen these days.

Well, Frankie Lee he panicked
He dropped ev'rythimg and ran
Until he came up to the spot
Where Judas Priest did stand
"What kind of a house is this", he said
"Where I have come to roam?"
"It's not a house", said Judas Priest
"It's not a house, it's a home".

Well, Frankie Lee he trembled
He soon lost all control
Over ev'rything which he had made
While the mission bells did toll
He just stood there staring
At that big house as bright as any sun
With four and twenty windows
And a woman's face in ev'ry one.

Back to the phone. Hello? Dear Wind, you got me again! Anyway, it was Anna from EM on the phone. Turns out, their prep girl jumped ship for the second Saturday in a row and Anna was calling to see if I wanted to be the new Saturday prep girl. "Yup. I'll be there as fast I can". It took 47 minutes to RUN from JJ's above the Petshop on Parc at St. Joseph, to my house in Outremont on Dollard, a fast change and then back to Mile End to my spot at the butcher block.

Holy fuck that felt good! It has been months stacked on top of months since I had stood at a station in a kitchen, on a payroll, holding a huge knife and having to decide which mountain to climb first--tomatoes or coriander? Coriander. Okay, I will back up as I am getting ahead of myself with excitement. This morning at 10:45 I stepped into the kitchen at EM Cafe wearing my first whites (that may sound strange, but considering how stinken' many kitchens I have cooked in in the last 7 years of my life, you'd be surprised what a pleasure it is to slip into your first cooking smock. It felt good! One size Petite left. Merci, I'll take it). A high and tight black apron against my white belle, a getting long braid and a toque. Face as plain as my nails.

"Hello boys, I'm Meg". Chef Benoit--who I doubt would ever want to be called 'Chef'--the fast flippin', fast talking French man is hysterical. He was tough and told me not to pinch my lips when I laughed because it offended him. Ha! I laughed aloud at that, teeth everywhere. Benoit doesn't have time for fumblers or criers or the lazy in general. Fast work, okay, I can do that. It took me a bit to get the feel for potatoes. The most efficient way to chop a vegetable 101 was flashing in my mind. What?

I was tisked on my first round of hash (too small, which is always better than too big) and praised for my small knowledge of reforestation (bless you, Ontario). Benoit's right hand, Simon (Nick Adamson's identical twin in face and spirit, how nice) who smiles calmly under the mustache while he plates food, greeted me and gave me my first task: potatoes. I took a quick look in his eyes and then at his feet and pants (wearing something James would wear) and I relaxed. Okay, I can do this. And I did. Hashbrowns start to finish, guac, Pico spicy hot, salad a million ways, grill bitch, breakfast burritos, bacon, all kinds of food were whipped up.

The table that is my latest work station has quickly climbed to the top of my Dream Dimensioned Work Table list. Weird, I know. But there is a certain feel to the length, breadth, depth and height of a work table (especially for the kitchen) and it is something I seek, something I look for first when I walk into a room. Furniture has so many stories (the older the better), and I am in love with it. But back to the kitchen table, it was the perfect working height for standing and mincing, chopping, you name it. It is two and a half inches of THICK heavy grained and heavily stained wood (not sure what kind). It is almost a square but not. It is tucked in next to a sliding door fridge. Underneath the wood is bread storage and in the fridge: dressings, leaf four ways, odds and ends, cheese, 'slaw and things like that. It felt nice to work really HARD! And fast. At one point during the brunch rush, I was told I was "efficient and dangerous". I was holding the mop. So this is my life, on Saturdays to come! Party. I skirted the conversation for the most part, just happy enough not to talk and just stand there whipping through a bunch of red onion.

Mercy! Who would have thought. This morning, when the buzzing stopped at hello, I just had a feeling today would be the day. Awesome. That was one of the best kitchen shifts I have ever worked. Looking forward to the Year of Learning, starting yesterday.

Saturday night, time to party in my room.

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