Friday, July 15, 2005

Pipe 'til you drop.

That's what the chef told us to do.

Today was Day 3--the third and final day of "take-it-easy-introduction-week." Before I detail what we did, a brief word from our sponsors: At this school, we do NOT measure, we WEIGH. Precision isn't possible with measuring--if you measure out four separate cups of flour, no two will weigh exactly the same. Thus, we look at the assigned recipes in order to make a master list of the ingredients we'll need for all the products (so that if we need 50 grams of butter for one item, 150 grams for a second item, and 175 grams for a third item, we can get all the butter at once, rather than making three separate trips for butter); we label scaling containers (i.e., plastic containers that come in three different sizes and that have lids), using a Sharpie and masking tape, with each ingredient, its amount, the recipe it's for, and possibly for the person, if each person in the team is making the product; we weigh (or scale) each ingredient, working as a team ("I'll do the butter while you do the rum"); and we group the filled containers on a large baking sheet (parchment on the baking sheet plus the aforementioned Sharpie permits separate sections for each product (and possibly each person as well)).

After we have scaled (i.e., weighed, containered, and labeled) all of the ingredients for the day, the chef demonstrates how to make one or more of the products. Sometimes he'll demonstrate two or three things in a row, other times he'll do just one. After the demonstrations, the teams go back to their stations and start doing the stuff. My teammate R and I have been working hard to make sure that each of us gets to try everything. The chef wanders around the room, peering in at everyone's work, making corrections and suggestions, and making himself available if there are any questions. He encourages us to ask questions, and he means it, so we do, or, anyway, I do.

Today, we learned how to fold (by folding food coloring into a simple buttercream icing that someone else had made) and then we practiced piping. We packed up the icing back into the containers (we were only using it for piping practice, and someone else would use it this afternoon) and finished cleaning up. (We are strongly encouraged to clean as we go, and to not be messy to begin with; I'm pretty good at the first, as a result of throwing dinner parties in tiny apartments, but not always so good at the latter.) The chef then demonstrated how to make apple streusel filling, Bee's Sting (a sweet almond glaze), and Italian meringue. We took a fifteen-minute break (it being 9:15 am and we having been at work since 6:00 am) then got down to it. Each team made a batch of the streusel filling, and each person made each of the other two products. Today, R went first for each item--she'd make the product while I cleaned up her stuff, and then we switched. After we made the Italian meringue, we practiced piping some more. We were told to take home the meringue if we wanted to practice some more, so I did (it's a nice consistency for piping, and I need the practice); otherwise the meringue just got thrown out. At about 11:30, we began the cleanup for the day, though normally we'd start at 11:00 on Fridays (when we move all of the equipment, including freezers and ovens and the like, in order to clean the floors around it); this week my team and another one were in charge of mopping the floors, which is the last task and can't be started until everyone else is out of the kitchen.

So have I mentioned that I'm loving this? Because I am. I keep thinking of the song my friend sang at our wedding--"'Tis a gift to be simple/'tis a gift to be free/'tis a gift to come down/where we ought to be"--and thinking that maybe this really is where I'm supposed to be right now. I'm not at all a believer in the notion that everything happens for a reason; given the lack of deities in my cosmology, it's also not surprising that I'm not a believer in the notion that a deity has a plan for me. What I do think, though, is that we can find ourselves out of balance--that whole notion of koyaanisqatsi. Identifying imbalance, and trying to find balance, are processes, not events; what's balanced today may not be tomorrow. So coming down where we ought to be isn't a one-time thing, which I'm sure most of you already know.

One last thing: you know how people pronounce Target as "Tar-jhaay"? You haven't really heard that until you've heard someone with a genuine French accent pronounce it that way.


Blogger landismom said...

So is the pastry class making you crave sweet things (as I am after reading your post), or are you now revolted by them?

8:50 PM  

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