Friday, September 09, 2005

Dip That Marzipan, Tote that Bale of Ganache

My brain's timing was off this morning. Usually it's calibrated such that I wake up about 5 minutes before 4:00 (which is when the alarm rings). This is convenient, because it means I can turn off the alarm and get out of bed without waking C. Today I woke up at 3:30, though, and when it's more than five or ten minutes before four, I play the doze-five-minutes-and-check-the-clock game, which isn't all that much fun and doesn't add to the restedness quotient all that much. I'm paying for it now, too; what I want to do is curl up (or, really, stretch out) and take a nap.

No drama today, which was a nice change of pace. Well, except for the drama at the table behind us, which was of a quieter sort. I suspect most classes have someone who just kind of doesn't get it, and he's our person. He whines constantly, which is enervating when it's not annoying (sometimes it's both!), often deprecating his own abilities. He can pick up things best when he gets one-on-one instruction, or so he was telling his partner today, though sometimes that just seems like a bid for attention (though I completely doubt that it's self-conscious on his part; self-awareness doesn't seem to be a strong suit for him, though he has a lot of the therapy language). I'd say his biggest problems are anxiety and too much talking: you can't hear what you're being told if your gums are flapping and/or if you're already formulating your next question, and you can't absorb what you're being told, even if you can hear it, if you're worried about it all. Drink a nice big cup of shutthefuckup and listen. My partner refers to him as a "girl," which I don't particularly like, in that I don't think calling people female things as an insult is generally a good idea, but I've decided not to call her on it. I just call him a whiner and let it go at that. But we are agreed that (a) he's incredibly bothersome and (b) we figured it out the first day of class. We both feel sorry for him sometimes, too, but flailing around (literally or figuratively) is rarely, if ever, the way to get your bearings, and I think people should figure that out by the time they're in their 40s. His partner is already tired of him, I think, and it's only been four days. In the locker room, I told her that my partner and I sympathized with her, and I think that made her feel a little better.

It makes me wonder, though, what he could possibly intend to do with his education. Three of my classmates are in the food industry, and an additional two have been to another culinary school (some of the first three have, too). Three others have some other kind of food-industry-related experience, though it varies in terms of intensity (one owns a business, the other two have done some wedding cakes for people, things like that, and one of them is now working in a restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights). Three I don't know about at all. Four have little or no experience in any aspect of the industry. Of those four, one would make a good food stylist (or wedding cake decorator, I think)--one of the industry occupations that doesn't require speed but values artistic sense, which she has. A second wants to focus on jams (to which we have not gotten, though we will eventually), and I think she's capable of other things, as well. A third, I don't know what she'll do, but she's young, so it's not like she doesn't have time to figure it out. And then there's this guy. At this point, it's not clear that he'd make it in a production environment; he doesn't have the speed or consistency (most of us don't yet, so that's not necessarily a fatal flaw), but it's not clear that he'd be able to acquire it, either. Most of us are learning things upon which we can build, such that we would be able to pick things up in a new place quickly enough for the boss, but him, hmmm, don't think so. Although he's done artistic things, apparently, I haven't seen particularly artistic work on his part. Maybe his chocolate or sugar showpieces will be spectacular, though; too soon to tell. I detail this not to rag on the guy but to wonder what the hell he's going to do.

Meanwhile, I'm extremely upset: the classmate who's teaching me Spanish wrote up a list of words for me--and now I can't find it! I'm very bummed. I'll dig out my dictionary this weekend, though, and try to remember some things. In other news: nougatine is still evil. Very, very evil. We had to bring our nougatine home with us (hah--as if mine will get anywhere near home), but the other stuff we're dipping we left behind. Today my partner and I only managed to dip the rest of the Three Brothers and the rest of the "Pistachio" Marzipan (there's really very little pistachio in it, so I was underwhelmed by it, altogether). We also cut up our ganaches for the (remade) Palet Or, the hazelnut one, and the coffee one, and arranged it all neatly so we can dip like madwomen on Monday. We've done nothing with the butter masses (butter, kirsch, chocolate, all whipped together and piped into long thick lines, presumably for cutting up), and we scaled but did not make the Royaltine today (don't know what it is, really, though it does include something that tastes a little like thin, crushed, Frosted Flakes, plus hazelnut paste, plus, you guessed it, more chocolate). Dipping chocolates by hand takes a certain amount of patience, which, surprisingly, I seem to have. It's one of the tasks that has a rhythm to it and is therefore easy to do while zoning out--arguably, it's better carried out while zoning out, as long as the requisite concentration on the task at hand is maintained; more like zoning in, I guess.

I'm supposed to be going out with S tonight (surprise, surprise), because C and the Kid are doing a Boy Scout sleepover thing; if I'm not out too late, I may try to make it to an early-morning yoga class, seeing as how I haven't been to a class in awhile, and seeing as how there's no handball tomorrow (they're redoing the floors still). Meanwhile, I should do some work.

Oh--but wait--I forgot to tell you about my exam evaluations. The evaluations were quite interesting, and not at all surprising. The chef noted every detail that he mentioned--not enough filling in the eclairs; no powdered sugar on the tarts, plus they were a little dry--and adjusted the grades accordingly. Out of a possible five points, you got 2 points for "not yet," i.e., you're still missing some major aspects of the product; 3 points for "developing," i.e., there's room for a lot of improvement; 4 points for "succeeding," i.e., everything looks pretty good but there are still little flaws, and 5 points for "excelling," i.e., you should be proud to sell it in a store. Each product was graded on taste, texture, presentation/appearance, organization, and teamwork, such that one could get a maximum of 25 points for each product. I got only one question (of 30) wrong on the written portion, which helped my grade. On the practical side, I did very well in breads, okay in petit fours, and pretty okay in wedding cakes, which is what I'd already reported to you guys. If I'd taken the tiniest bit more time with my eclairs and remembered to dust my tarts with powdered sugar, it might have been a different story for the petit fours. In general, I'm "succeeding" at most things, with some "developings" and some "excellings" scattered in there and (I think) no "not yets," so I thought it was pretty good. I really found this way of thinking about it more useful than letter grades (though those ended up being calculated and attached), not least because this is a practical-skills-based enterprise.


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