About Me

My photo
on the downward side of the age mountain.

Friday, February 23, 2007

What Does This Mean?

From my Nation's Restaurant News, 2.12.07
Most frequently ordered foods at restaurants...
1. Burgers(17.4%)
2.French Fries(14.2%)
4.Breakfast Sandwich(6.2%)
5.Side Dish Salad(5.7%)
8.Hash Browns(4.1%)
10.Main Dish Salad(3.4%)

1.French Fries(13.8%)
4.Side Dish Salad(6.8%)
5.Chicken Sandwich(5.3%)
6.Breakfast Sandwich(4.9%)
7.Main Dish Salad(4.6%)
9.Chicken Nuggets(3.8%)

O.K. Lets see if we can extract some sense from these Mars Vs. Venus eating pattens. Burgers or fries? Fries or burgers? it's a toss up. Out of the top ten frequently ordered foods 17.2% are in agreement with Pizza. It also looks like men eat breakfast out more with breakfast sandwiches, eggs, doughnuts and hashbrowns. Women lean toward lunches and the real mystery is who are the 3.6% of the female public ordering rice?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Alpha Chef

In a recent article in The New York Times they mentioned couples in the kitchen. That sounded cute since it was Saint Valentine's Day and the western world (or at least the U.S.) was awash in chocolate, romance, and roses. I delved further into the article and found it talked more about how couples negotiate the hallowed grounds of the kitchen, and that's where I discovered myself. It seems that kitchen cooks are divided between the alpha's and the beta's. The article tried to soften the conflict with cute he and she head- butting but I saw something bigger. I had not only become the dominatrix in the kitchen but it was like a solo Iron Chef show-down every time I entered kitchen stadium! No wonder my NSSP (not so silent partner) who came into the relationship with a little brown file box of recipes only opens it on Sundays for waffles and rolled up pancakes. I don't start cooking until 5 being the night chef at heart and loathing to make any brunch type meals.

Then I thought of The Princess. When I grew up I was given the job of stirring My T Fine Pudding until it was done or stirring the lumps out of gravy or shucking corn in the summer. But The Princess had never done any of those things. My NSSP had occasionally suggested that I teach her how to cook but I dreaded these exchanges. I had no patience for bumbling hands. As a result the other 2/3rds of the household stayed clear and left the dog and myself to my culinary alchemy. Now The Princess was falling out of the nest with a darned good palate and no tools to satisfy it. Bad Mom.

As in any 12 step program understanding your bad behavior is one step to recovery or not. I love being an alpha chef. My ego soars as I sharpen my knife in anticipation of boning a chicken breast. My thoughts layer food elements together, mentally trying combinations before I put them in the pan. I get off on being in control. It makes me nervous when the NSSP declares it his turn to make dinner. I wait nervously in the living room waiting for him to ask for help so I can swoop in and right his wrongs. But that doesn’t happen. He produces a very nice meal, has learned to pick the dishes, and even garnish his food. Darn it, it’s tasty too!

I guess I just have a restaurant ego in a home kitchen!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Master Baker

He walked, or was it a strut or swagger. What ever it was it was purposeful, forthright, and with intent. His dancing brown eyes highlighted the all too healthy tan. The azure blue work shirt was opened one button too many. The gold chain, at least 18 karats was anchored with a medallion below the viewing point. His gold marriage ring was noticeable but one didn’t feel that it restricted his social movement. He was French with joie d’ vie.

He had a rounded paunch. Not the soft bread poking kind but one that was in constant use. One that felt curls, twists, and kitchen bends. He was virile and very masculine. His whole male package could make women of a certain age have an intake of breath and remember flirting, a hobby out of practice.

He shrugged his traveling bag off his shoulder and removed a nylon jacket and a neatly rolled chef’s coat. “I would like to hang this up; it has traveled a long way. I rode my bike up from Arizona,” his French accent caressed each word as his eyes probed mine.

It was his hands that mesmerized me. They were strong and muscular. Ragged finger nails capped the fingers and heavy calluses protected his hands from his profession as a Master Pastry Chef. Andre was a master of his profession. His passion was sugar sculpture. Working with sugar is a highly technical and artistic section of the pastry department that includes pulling sugar into gossamer sheets and the most delicate pastel colors. He could blow sugar balloons, imitate roses, and make a pond for swans to swim.

Sugar sculpture is a dying art, with few chefs developing the skills and having the patience necessary for blowing and pulling sugar into elaborate and decorative masterpieces. It takes years of dedication, perseverance, and burns along the way to master this discipline.

The sugar is boiled with water and glucose to a caramel, tartaric acid and food colors are added. As the sugar is cooled it is pulled to form a chain of sugar crystals which will give the sugar a pearl like shine. The artist goes to work molding, pulling, and blowing the sugar into the shapes. The final application is to hand paint or airbrush the finished product with food colors.

And here before me was a master ready to teach a class and hop on his red and chrome bike to ride back to Arizona. I gently took the chef’s coat and showed him the way to the back room. I shook out the jacket perhaps a little longer than necessary and stroked out the wrinkles.

I would not take the class and it would be better that way.