Monday, February 11, 2008

Before I can cook it, I have to get it

Last night was taco night. As of this week, 80 percent of my family eats poultry. And I forgot to cook the chicken. Which reminds me...

In college, I briefly held a job as a scooper at the local iced cream parlor. I endured four weeks of $2.15-per-hour training (because I was a trainee, they didn't have to pay me minimum wage). All I remember from the condescending training (except for my pay rate -- interesting what stays with you) was that the local chain's trainer repeatedly screamed at us to "never touch your damn faces in front of a customer!" He gave us so many ways to avoid touching your face (one was, "think about the Eagles winning the Super Bowl") that touching our faces was all we could think of, at work and elsewhere.

On a Saturday night in October, I went live. I closed the shop that night, so I didn't have to start working until 6pm, when traffic was light. By 8pm, I was so flustered that I gave someone a banana split with one ingredient missing: the banana. Two weeks later, I had another job, one not involving food preparation.

I recently thought of the look on the customer's face as I handed him a banana-free banana split, and I thought of how cooking is about preparation: not just preparation in the kitchen, but beforehand. If you don't have the right ingredients on hand, you can't do anything. No chicken, no complete meal.

I was not born to go to the supermarket. That's why I'm grateful for, a service (well it's not quite a service, it's a PDF download of the "ultimatest grocery list" that organizes food products into categories and reminds me what I'm supposed to buy. (It also provided the raw material for a Found-ish book of grocery lists.)

So I have help deciding what to buy.
Thanks to Bittman and Kokernak, I have help deciding what to do in the kitchen with what I buy.
So why do I still forget the chicken? And, more important, why am I still a chicken in the kitchen?



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