Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Snow Day... a Day for Pork

There was an electricity last night on campus. Around five, while I was still in class, students were notified that class for today, Wednesday, were cancelled in anticipation of a mighty blizzard. There were sly smiles. People, instead of bitching about piping homework, laughed and danced while I, being Mr. Fun-killer group leader, ordered people to mop, wash dishes, and overall stop dicking around. I heard whispers around the kitchen, "Yo were getting hammered tonight," I even heard a few, "I'm making a liquor store run during dinner break before the snow hits, who wants me to pick up." Needless to say I envisioned a night of half conscious, (possibly half-clothed) snow angels. I wasn't down to go crazy, so I stayed in Eli and Taylor's room (my home away from home) and watched episodes of 30 rock on netflix until around 2 30, when I decided to head outside, and trek through the blizzard, and hit the hay.

But as I walked down Chive Ct. (one of the ridiculously named streets on CIA's campus) I ran into a few inebriated friends who demanded I sled with them. It looked fun, and relatively safe, so I decided to oblige them. I climbed to the top of the surprisingly rocky hill (at this point I knew i was screwed, but the easiest way down was on my ass), and positioned myself on the shoddy, cheap plastic disc sled that was obviously built for a 60 pound girl (it was pink). My friends at the bottom of the steep, rocky slope shouted things like ,"Yo Mike, it aint bad! Just fuckin' go!" Let me take this time to mention that they had built a decent sized ramp out of snow at the bottom of the hill. I waited for a car to drive past on the street below, and awkwardly pushed off and immediately the sled rotated 90 degrees and I slid down the hill practically laying on my side. Then, I hit the ramp, which almost collapsed under my weight, but the speed I had collected on my thirty foot journey was enough to lift me a few feet in the air. I lost complete control of the sled and came crashing down to the ground. The geniuses who built the ramp positioned it so that the landing area wound up being the curb, which was buried under a few feet of snow collected from the first plows of the evening. My tailbone, sure enough, landed squarely on the curb and I yelped in pain, and turned over on my back, in the middle of the snow covered road for a few moments. Then Jared helped me up. I decided that I had had enough, and stumbled my way back to my room, clutching my ass and wincing the whole way.

I feel old as shit. I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a train. And after potentially breaking my toe playing football in the gym today, I realized that getting old sucks. A few months ago I got hit by a fucking car and was able to limp it off, and struggle through a few dinner services. But today, after throwing a pick and awkwardly falling/stubbing my toe I couldn't even walk. My body can't take beatings like it used to. I'm no longer superman. I need to kick my own ass to get me back into "shape". Nothing, in my opinion, does that quite like working into kitchens. Hours and hours of fast paced work, on your feet, in the heat, with the world weighing down on your shoulders, is honestly one of the most gratifying workouts imagineable. I would literally walk out of work at L'Etoile and feel like I could not be stopped. I felt like a super hero.

So, in order to regain my sense invincibility, I got a job. Tomorrow morning at 6:00 I start work in the continuing education classes where I'll be an apprentice for actual chef's completing their Pro Chef certification program. I'll be working in an actual kitchen again, then I'll be shifting immediately to class. I'll be in kitchens for 15 straight hours on days that I have work. I can't wait. And I'll be getting paid. Guess who's goin to the city this weekend!?

For a while I honestly considered staying at L'Etoile, and not returning to school. Tory told me one day, "Why the fuck would you go back? I know what your classes will be like. You'll bake, you'll learn front of the house, and you'll work in the shitty restaurants." Today was one of those days that I'm glad I came back. Sure the classes have been pointless thus far for the most part, but some of the people here are pretty freakin cool. And the stuff I do with them is stuff I know I wouldn't be able to do with my friends at home. A personal hero of mine opened one of the books that changed my life with the sentence, "Cook's rule." A few hours ago I really came to know what he meant.

Jon and I thawed the leftover uncooked pork shoulder today, and around 5 we set off for the kitchen in Taylor and Eli's lodge. We didn't have much. We had pork, salt, pepper, chicken stock, and I bought a coke from the vending machine. I took control of the pork. I seared it, and braised it in the oven for about four hours. We pulled it out, warmed up stolen baguette from our classes. It was one of those special moments. We had limited silverware, so I volunteered to use my hands. We sat around the large wooden surface with just hot juicy, falling-apart pork, the braising liquid, bread, and cholula. I reached in with my fingers to grab for the first hunk of pork. It singed my fingertips, and I yanked my hand back. I licked my burning fingers and the unctious pork grease that was on my fingers enticed me to carelessly dive in for more. We stood around the table, smiling, not saying a word. Hot pork fat dripped down my chin. My fingers went numb from the steaming pork. I managed a few groans and moans inbetween mouthfuls of salty, incredibly moist meat, dripping with cholula. And as I looked around I knew that every single person sitting around me was in a state of euphoria, just like me. It was special.

Notice the pork fat shining oh so brilliantly on the wooden table. AWESOME

Now, as I sit in my bed, listening to Alex talk to his girlfriend about kittens, I'm contemplating not showering for a while, just so the smell will follow me around forever.

Pure Bliss I tell you, pure bliss.


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