30 August 2011

Day 12: No Pain, No Mayo

I discovered a new workout: hand-whipping mayonnaise. It's better than the Lap-Band at toning the shoulders, plus it comes with the bonus of having mayonnaise to slather on sandwiches or dip fries in, if you're a kooky European-type person who's into that kind of thing.

I'm actually not much of a mayo person unless it's an aioli, which I learned is simply basic mayo made with olive oil, plus garlic. Which, yes, I have enjoyed whilst eating some lovely, crispy fries.

After my recent hollandaise fail, I was concerned I'd also screw up the mayo. Thankfully, mayonnaise needs no cooking, just the ability to stream oil into a bowl while whisking as if the continued rotation of the Earth, and by extension life itself, depended on one's ability to emulsify egg yolks with oil.

I actually went lefty because it took so long and my shoulder started to hurt, but the result is much tastier than store-bought mayo and head-and-shoulders better than Miracle Whip, which I'm pretty sure contains neither miracles nor whip. I'm starting to think, in the culinary world, pain and taste are never too far apart.
Vinegar, mustard, egg yolk, oil. Whisk until arm falls off. Voilà.
We also watched our chef instructor make two different roux for two different sauces; white roux for béchamel, blond roux for velouté. While I've made roux and béchamel a few times in the past, I did learn a good rule of thumb for roux: after mixing the fat (e.g. butter) and the flour together, a proper roux should have the consistency of wet sand.

Velouté and béchamel sauces.
Another neat little factoid is the difference between a gravy and a sauce. A gravy utilizes natural fat, like pan drippings from a roasted turkey, while a sauce uses butter or lard. Sure, that's not the type of information that makes one a genius cook, but it's one of those things that always gnawed at me, like the difference between a stock and broth.

Day 11: Tourné Around Again

Our weekend homework was to do potato tournés. I earned an 85/100 for mine. The chef mostly complimented my knife work, which have to be long, relatively wide, curved cuts (as opposed to shaving the potato as one whittles wood). He docked me for some smallish cuts and for the ends not being similar – as you can see, one end is pointed while the other is flat. I could've either pointed the flat end or squared off the pointed end.

So, there it is: what a solid B tourné looks like.

29 August 2011

Fresh Food Reads

Here's some interesting food-related reading the interwebs has brought to me recently:

An organization called the Environmental Working Group has lists of food that you should or shouldn't buy organic, based on how much pesticide residue tends to stick to them. You can save some money by not bothering to buy organic versions of the "Clean 15."

Scientists have located the yeast that helped invent lager… in Argentina.

Serious Eats' quick guide to dill pickling.

Michael Ruhlman remembers the best tomato he ever ate, and provides 39 ways to eat tomatoes.

Cooking food apparently helped homo erectus evolve into homo sapiens. Nothing about the evolutionary benefits of food porn, though.

Tomato soup with mozzarella noodles from Ideas in Food.

Food photographer/blogger Jun Belen is doing the ABCs of Filipino Food. Probably you will drool while reading E is for Ensaimada.

Week in Review #2 - Tourné Around

We're still weeks away from doing actual cooking, but we're getting closer. I can, quite literally, smell it. I got to drop some stock on Friday, so I spent a good ten minutes ladling veal stock through strainers (which, if you missed it, are of the Asian persuasion).

Ten minutes standing over bubbling, lip-smacking, two-days-simmering veal bones and meat and wonderful, wonderful fat. We pretty quickly attacked some of the meat that had been set aside from one stock pot, and while most of the flavor had made its way into the liquid – that's pretty much the point, isn't it? – it was still pretty delicious.

By my count, we're up to 15 different knife techniques, which we've practiced on potatoes, carrots, zucchini, onions, shallots, celery, and turnips. I'm happy to say I've already shown improvement. I'm not happy to say we keep having to do tournés, which certainly make for cute little vegetables, but seem an awful waste, make my hands sore, and don't have an obvious culinary application unless I ever want to serve cute little vegetables that roughly resemble boat hulls or footballs.

Technique of the Week

Not tournés! I'm going to go with our basic 3-2-8-2-2-4 volume conversion shorthand. I have three refrigerator magnets for kitchen conversions that I can now retire because of 3-2-8-2-2-4. I'm trying to come up with a mnemonic device for this, or at least for the corresponding measurements (teaspoon, tablespoon, ounce, cup, pint, quart, and gallon). Alas, my mind keeps drifting to 867-530-niiii-eee-iiiine. Who can I turn to?

Injury Report

The consecutive non-cutting streak has reached double digits. Ten days!

Day 10: As the Potato Turns

I will probably remember day 10 more for the trip into school. Some highlights: a 3-year-old kid asked if I liked the bus and why I had whiskers (I didn't shave… go me!); I eavesdropped on a completely full of shit college kid who bragged to his friend about his fighting skills, including how he broke someone's arm and made it "look like a clock"; a homeless dude on Sunset Blvd. asked of passersby, "Excuse me, can you spare 10 million dollars?"; there was a near-throwdown when I spotted a culinary student from the Art Institutes board my bus. Okay, not really on that last one, but I imagined us unzipping our knife kits and julienning carrots for the honor of best for-profit culinary school in Los Angeles County.

As far as actual culinary schooling, day 10 featured more knife technique, including four new ones: carré (3/4" cubes) of potatoes, paysanne zucchini (thin triangular slices), oblique carrots (chunky triangle things), and ciseler shallots (a very fine dice, basically).

We also did more julienne and brunoise carrots, and most of the students have resorted to munching on our carrot trimmings. Because, you know, people starving in Africa and all that. Also, we get pretty hungry breaking down food and not cooking it.

Hands down the most painful thing so far has been the tournes. It's from the French verb for "to turn" and that's basically what we do: whittle with a paring knife, turn, whittle, turn, whittle, turn. Unlike most other techniques, which require one hand to hold and one to work the knife, tourné primarily requires my fingers to do things they have never done before.

I'm fairly certain it's also the only time the proper knife technique involves the blade coming back in your direction, almost directly toward the thumb. Miraculously, no one in class has cut themselves with the paring knife.

26 August 2011

Food in Fiction: Goodfellas

"In prison, dinner was always a big thing. We had a pasta course and then we had a meat or a fish. Paulie did the prep work. He was doing a year for contempt and he had this wonderful system for doing the garlic. He used a razor and he used to slice it so thin that it used to liquify in the pan with just a little oil. It's a very good system."

Henry Hill (Ray Liotta)
Screenplay by Nicholas Pileggi & Martin Scorsese, based on Pileggi's book Wiseguy
Directed by Martin Scorsese

Paulie's thin slicing technique is properly called émincer.

Watch the dinner scene on YouTube (sadly, not embeddable)

25 August 2011

Technique: Cooking Beef to Desired Doneness

Epicurious has produced a bunch of technique videos, including one that is hands down the best guide I’ve ever come across for how to tell the doneness of a steak without using a thermometer or (shamefully) cutting it open.

In fact, in the category of all-time hand-related techniques, I'd rank this just ahead of the finger multiplication in Stand and Deliver and just behind Steve Jobs' insistence that the iPhone should eschew a stylus and utilize a touchscreen.

The basic gist is to compare the tenderness of beef to the tenderness of the flesh at the base of your thumb. The tenderness with your palm open is raw. Touch your index finger and your thumb and then test again; it should be slightly tougher. That's rare. Middle finger and your thumb is medium-rare, etc. Genius, right?

24 August 2011

Day 8: 'Chinaman' is Not the Preferred Nomenclature

Today was day eight, but only our fourth day in the kitchen (we alternate between our kitchen "lab" class and Food Sanitation & Safety). Which is why I was surprised to crack open my culinary foundations book and realize how many knife cuts we've already done. In roughly ten hours of class, we've tackled:

Zucchini, potato, and celery tournés.
  • Brunoise (1/8" cubes)
  • Macédoine (1/4" cubes)
  • Parmentier (1/2" cubes)
  • Juliènne (1/8" x 1/8" x 2" sticks)
  • Batonnet (1/4" x 1/4" x 2" sticks)
  • Rondelle (round slices)
  • Tournés (football or boat shapes)
  • Concasser (rough chop)
  • Émincer (really thin slice)
  • Bouchon (cylinder)
  • Savonett (rounded discs)
  • Partridge in a Pear Tree (not really)


I am getting slightly better with eyeball measurements, which feels good. The most challenging part for me thus far has been squaring off vegetables, that initial step to make even sides before cutting down into the desired shape. I haven't quite made an even square yet, which screws up the whole deal before I've even begun, and results in a lot of waste as I try to shave the potato or carrot or whatever into a proper square.

We were officially introduced to a bunch of "small ware" today. Pots and pans, basically. I was glad to learn that one of the head chef instructors refers to sauce pans as sauce pots, which makes a lot more sense. And then we learned that two conical strainers have… er, antiquated cultural names.

Chinois, the really fine mesh sieve, is simply French for Chinese. Based on that name, I'd assume it was invented and/or popularized by Chinese cooks. But then the other one is named China Cap, and I'm thinking the name probably wasn't given by those same Chinese cooks.

Honestly, the name China Cap tickles me. It's cute in the same way a latently racist great grandmother is cute. "Oh, she doesn't mean anything by it," you say. "That's just what they called conical strainers in her day." Hey, it works. 

23 August 2011

Day 7: Drop It Like It's Stock

I get a real kick out of lingo. Slang or double talk or euphemisms, all that. Sometimes I even assume a phrase is a euphemism just to entertain myself. The culinary world, of course, has its fair share of lingo, and it's been one of the bright spots of Food Safety and Sanitation, a class which is otherwise like a cross between high school biology and the film Outbreak. To wit:

"Sushi grade" or "sashimi grade." I used to think this was a quality rating akin to the USDA beef scale. Or maybe it signified a particularly desirable cut of meat. It isn't and it doesn't.

Some fish have parasites. A supplier must hold fish at or below a specific freezing temperature for a specific amount of time to kill the parasites and make the fish safe for raw consumption, otherwise it'd have to be cooked. Look up "anisakis simplex" on Wikipedia if you want to freak yourself out and never eat sushi again.

You know those menu warnings that say "eating raw or undercooked meat poses a health risk" or something similar? That means the restaurant you're in is legally protected if you ask for your burger medium-rare, then keel over and die from a pathogen that otherwise would've been killed had you asked for medium. There are worse ways to go, so I now take comfort in seeing that particular legal disclosure.

On the more fun side is "drop stock," which we learned today. The mirepoix (that's carrots, onions, and celery) we chopped yesterday was dumped into a stock pot with a bouquet garni (that's a bay leaf, thyme, parsley stems, and peppercorns), chicken bones, and water to simmer overnight. Today, we dropped the stock, which basically means to strain all that stuff out of the now-flavored liquid. I really, really like this phrase, if only because it could easily be used in another context.

In Vegas? "I'm gonna head over to the poker room and drop stock." Or, "Later tonight, we're hitting up Olympic Gardens and dropping stock."

Just demolished someone in fantasy football? "Dude, you dropped stock on him, for real."

Need some retail therapy? "Today was hell. I'm heading to the mall and dropping stock."

All-purpose visit to the bathroom? "Hand me the sports page, I need to go drop stock."

The possibilities are limitless.

We also learned that a stock is essentially a more refined and deeply flavored broth. The example the chef gave us was: if you drop a whole chicken into a pot of water and boil it, you'd get a broth. If you use bones to get a deeper flavor, you'd get stock. Reduce and reduce and reduce a stock until it's practically gelatin, then dehydrate it, and you'd have yourself bouillon powder.

I'm not sure at what point you'd drop bouillon, but that sounds pretty cool, too, doesn't it?

Day 6: Have Knife, Will Practice


No, that isn't Jenny's number. Or Hurley's Lost lottery digits (well, one is). It's probably the easiest way to remember kitchen volume conversions I've seen. It goes from smallest to biggest.
3 tsp = 1 Tb
2 Tb = 1 oz.
8 oz. = 1 cup
2 cups = 1 pint
2 pints = 1 quart
4 quarts = 1 gallon
So, that's pretty nifty.

In other news, we practiced more cuts. A lot more. I think I have effectively quadrupled my French vocabulary. Merde oui!

I haven't been completely satisfied with my cuts. The squares haven't been quite square enough. I've found that the bigger dices are actually more difficult, I think because it requires a steadier hand to make the longer cut.

The good news is we can take home ingredients to practice, so I grabbed two potatoes. Once home, while making dinner, I busted out a tape measure to practice my macédoine (1/4") cubes. Of course, I didn't want to throw food away, so macédoine potatoes, olive oil, garlic and a little thyme and I had myself some fancy, not-so-brown hash browns to go with some steak and heirlooms from the garden.

How Not To Do It: Hollandaise

I wish cookbooks would illustrate what failure looks like. Especially with the tricky recipes.

With that in mind, here's what completely screwed up hollandaise sauce looks like. The Wife made cupcakes last Sunday that needed egg whites. Since we had leftover egg yolks, and I was planning on making tilapia and asparagus for dinner, I figured I'd make a go at hollandaise.

As with any cooking involving egg yolks (pudding, ice cream base, etc.), you can't make it too hot and you've got to really keep it moving. Even with the double boiler thing, I think I went too hot. Anyway, this is what curdled, broken hollandaise looks like. You're supposed to be able to save it by adding additional teaspoons of hot water and whisking, but… yeah, no…

Welcome to the City of Failed Hollandaise. Population: soft scrambled egg, melted butter, lemon juice, and water. It smelled fantastic, at least.

21 August 2011

Week in Review #1 - Let Them Eat Pasta

The first week of culinary school is in the books. A basic foundation-laying process has begun.

And of all the things that I’ve learned, one thing jumps out: the French didn’t really invent modern cuisine. As a red-blooded American, I feel it’s my duty to take every opportunity to cut down those peace-mongering surrender monkeys.
"We all talk like Maurice Chevalier!"

I kid! I kid! But let's face it, there's a strange allure to poking fun at the French.

It’s fun to, how you say, ooze theez reedeecooluhs ahk-cent. It’s fun to add “le” to things to make them fancier. Even though American involvement in war is a lightning rod of a subject nowadays, can any one of us resist pointing out how we saved the French twice last century? And they lost Vietnam, too!

So, if you’d like to get under the skin of the resident Frenchman in your social circle, do try to work this into a dinner conversation: French cuisine was brought to France by an Italian.

Of course, this is a gross simplification that ignores all the innovations the French brought to the modern, professional kitchen, but it’s essentially true. Catherine de’ Medici, she of the Famiglia de’ Medici (cue your ridiculous Italian accent), married King Henry II of France in 1533. She brought her cooks and their more sophisticated techniques with her.

It wasn’t until the next century that a French chef, trained in a Medici kitchen, decided to break away from Italian conventions, kickstarting a series of changes that eventually resulted in haute cuisine, the brigade system, restaurant terminology and all that stuff.

Okay, so it’s not even “essentially” true that French cuisine was brought to France by an Italian, but hey, it’s all in good fun. And besides, we all know the Chinese invented everything.

Technique of the Week

My new rule of thumb: give it the finger.

One of the essentials of slicing and dicing is uniformity. Our cutting boards do have ruler hash marks on the bottom, but moving ingredients to the edge slows me down. The most basic measure we’ve had so far is half an inch, because from there you can cut down to a batonnet (1/4" sticks) and a julienne (1/8" sticks).

To help me eyeball the measurements, I went home and measured my fingernails. It turns out my middle finger nail is half an inch from the back to that line where the nail meets skin (as opposed to the end of the nail, which, of course, grows). If I'm ever in a kitchen with you, please don’t take it personally.

Injury Report

One week, zero cuts. I did scratch myself at home on, of all things, the little metal teeth on a box of parchment paper, but I don’t think that counts.

19 August 2011

Food in Fiction: The Merry Wives of Windsor

Welcome to the first Food in Fiction post, a series that will highlight how food appears in various works of art, including literature, movies, and music. Food in Fiction will run every Friday.

Portrait of Shakespeare not eating an oyster.
Falstaff: I will not lend thee a penny.
Pistol: Why, then the world's mine oyster,
Which I with sword will open. –
I will retort the sum in equipage.

The Merry Wives of Windsor (Act II, Scene II)
by William Shakespeare

This exchange is generally acknowledged to be the origin of the phrase.

18 August 2011

Day 3: Rice Into the Danger Zone

We had our first sanitation class yesterday, one of the few academic classes we have. It's fairly common sense stuff for the most part (wash your hands, people), but I did learn that we asians should have dropped dead long ago, at least according to public health code.

I routinely make a pot of rice and leave it in the cooker at room temperature for a day. Sometimes two. My mom does this, too. Our chef instructor, as it turns out, has Filipino relatives that also do this. This is what the book says is bad, because the 41-135° F range is what's known as the Temperature Danger Zone.

Apparently, I'm encouraging toxic rice spores to grow and multiply and release their toxic rice mojo into my mouth.

Asians. Living on the edge.

Oh, wait, that's a different song.

17 August 2011

Recipe: Grape Tomato Confit

My two day quasi-internship in a restaurant netted me two things: the knowledge of what a professional kitchen was like, and a basic tomato confit recipe.

I generally see confit used to refer to meat cooked and stored in its own fat. My personal introduction to the confit family was with duck, which I’m guessing is the most prevalent today since duck fat is the Louis Vuitton of animal fats. However, the word itself is derived from the Old French for “preserved fruit.” Sugarplums and whatnot.

Of course, no variety of tomato I’m familiar with grows marbled with animal fat (put your tomacco down and get on that, food scientists!), so tomato confit is slow roasted with olive oil and herbs. The restaurant’s recipe was fired at me while I was halving grape tomatoes, so it’s possible I’m leaving something out, but I’ve found this gets the job done.

  • 2 lbs. grape (or cherry) tomatoes 
  • 15 basil leaves (a.k.a. a handful) 
  • 5 sprigs of thyme 
  • 8 or so cloves of garlic 
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil 
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt 
*The garlic and herb measurements here are all "-ish" measurements. And the ingredients I may or may not hazily remember: onion powder and bay leaves.

  • Large mixing bowl 
  • Rimmed baking sheet 
  • Aluminum foil 
  • Parchment Paper 

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Line your rimmed baking sheet with foil, then line that with parchment paper. (I initially wondered why all the lining and once thought, screw it. Well, tomatoes are sneakily acidic and my pan can now testify to this fact.)

Peel and roughly chop the garlic. Roughly shred the basil by hand. Combine the herbs, garlic, and olive oil in a large bowl and toss together. Set aside.

Halve the tomatoes and toss in with the olive oil and herbs. Add salt and toss again to mix. Pour the contents of the bowl into the baking sheet and spread evenly. 


Bake for an hour at 350. Then lower the heat to 250 and continue to bake for another 2-2.5 hours. The skin will bubble up and crisp, and eventually the tomatoes will turn a deep red color. Where to stop is really a matter of preference.

Take it out early and the tomatoes will have fleshy meat (the skins will slide off). Keep going and it’ll reach a flexible yet juicy marmalade-like stage. After that it begins to resemble a chewy sun-dried tomato. After that is a crispy-sun dried tomato stage. Last and most definitely least is the burnt and inedible stage.
Confit textures from fleshy to sun-dried tomato-esque. Not pictured: burnt.
If your oven is like mine, the entire batch won’t cook evenly. I stop when most of the tomatoes are in that middle range, which results in confit that’s chunky yet spreadable. If you keep going, I suggest checking in every 10-15 minutes, because it’ll cook quickly at this point.
Before and after.
Let cool. Remove the basil and thyme (they’ll be charred pretty good). Unless you’ve stopped at the fleshy stage, you should be able to squeeze the entire batch of tomatoes and some of the garlic into a 12 oz. canning jar. If you have a spare fresh basil leaf, throw that in there, too. Add extra olive oil to cover and store in the refrigerator. I’ve kept it safely for a couple of months before finishing the batch.


It’s versatile stuff. I’ve reheated it and topped it on toasted bagels, made omelets with it, and tossed it with ravioli and capellini. I’m thinking it’d work on a salad or as a sandwich spread. Maybe with brie and crackers. Really, what can’t you do with a roasted tomato?

To answer my own question: I topped it on vanilla ice cream and the temperature made it gummy, so don’t do that. But, if you pureed and incorporated it into ice cream during the creaming phase...

16 August 2011

Day 2: Hollyweird

We did some very basic knife work today, doing three different potato cuts and two different onion chops. However, an unwitting sanitation lesson and quote of the day came while we were on break and hanging out in the plaza we share with the Arclight, just a stone's throw from Sunset Blvd.:

"Don't wear your aprons out here. This is Hollywood. You don't know what's on these weirdos."

"Bleu Light Special", Hollywood, CA, 2010

15 August 2011

Day 1: Knives Out

Strangely, I can’t remember my first day with the core group of twenty or so people from my program at USC, but I can remember all the anxious exchanges with strangers in the general education electives. Maybe I’ve blocked out those initial memories with the people who eventually became friends, while all I have of the others are fleeting acknowledgements – awkward nods, half-averted glances – en route to a discussion no one really cared about.

The first day of culinary school was preceded by a lot of typical first day butterflies and featured a lot of typical first day business. I think this core group of twenty or so sticks together for the whole program, so that made me feel pretty good.

The only real differences from any other school's first day were how we responded during attendance (“Here, chef.”) and the tutorial on how to tie our neckerchiefs. Oh, and we received some basic educational supplies...

Knife set!

Yes, in addition to the chef’s uniform, we each get our own kitchen kit, complete with some basic utensils. Like a 9" chef’s knife, paring knife, 2-oz. ladle, covert button camera, wire tap device and chewing gum plastic explosives. I may have imagined some of those.

I'm one step closer to having Padma tell me to please pack my knives and go, or a vigorous game of knifey spoony.

My View of the Culinary School Debate

The public conversation about the merits of culinary schools seems to be getting bigger and more lopsided as – because? – enrollment increases. Or maybe I'm simply more aware of it because, as of this posting, I am in my first week of culinary education at Le Cordon Bleu in Los Angeles. To sum up the positions of this conversation:

Those against culinary school say it’s not required. Even more damning, some chefs don’t even like the product that culinary schools spew forth into the hospitality world. The grads are entitled Top Chef wannabes who think their degree comes with a Michelin star, a merch deal, and an invitation to kick back with Bourdain and talk shit about Guy Fieri.

The other side of the conversation is… well, unless you're the admissions rep at the ACME College of Culinary Arts & Anvil Making, there isn’t really another side.

I first started seriously considering culinary school several years ago. Suffice to say, I did a lot of thinking before I pulled the trigger on enrolling. Here are the issues that weighed on me, and how I personally addressed them.

12 August 2011

New Student Orientation

I've just returned from orientation. They talked about career expectations and working hard, etc. etc. yadda, yadda, yadda… I GET A UNIFORM.

This is actually the first school uniform I've ever had. I think I get the knife set and badass knife carry case on the first day of class, otherwise I would've taken a picture of myself wielding them like a samurai (obviously). Deep breath...

2 Days, 5 Wounds, and a Career Change

I’d been thinking about becoming a cook for years. I'm a writer. Went to film school at USC, tried the screenwriting thing, ended up writing random things in random places across the Interwebs. Some of it I enjoyed. Some of it, where I was essentially writing for search engine algorithms instead of people, not so much.

I didn’t make the career jump for a number of reasons. Chief among those reasons: I am not an impulsive person (read: scared). I needed to know if the daily routine of a kitchen was something I could handle. Except I wasn’t really sure how to find that out.

As with many food-loving media consumers, I’m a fan of Anthony Bourdain. My personal admiration for the man stems from the fact that he parlayed a cooking career into an acclaimed writing and television career, which pretty much hits all the "interests" I list on social network profiles. I consider myself to be a fairly estimable cineaste, but the Top 10 list Bourdain did for the Criterion Collection puts me to shame – I’ve only seen four of them. Be still my man-crushing heart.

Suffice to say, the idea of pulling a Reverse Bourdain (that’d be writer-turned-chef) fills me with considerable joy. But much to my dismay, Bourdain often dismisses the increasingly trendy food world, and especially the part where thousands of disaffected idiots like me begin to fancy themselves chefs. In Medium Raw, Bourdain devoted an entire chapter to basically breaking my will, along with every other disaffected idiot who fancies chefdom.

And then he gave an out.

     Are you the type of person who likes the searing heat, the mad pace, the never-ending stress and melodrama, the low pay, probable lack of benefits, inequity and futility, the cuts and burns and damage to body and brain – the lack of anything resembling normal hours or a normal personal life?
     Or are you like everybody else? A normal person?
     Find out sooner rather than later. Work – for free, if necessary, in a busy kitchen. Any kitchen that will have you will do – in this case, a busy Applebee’s or T.G.I. Friday’s or any old place will be fine. Anybody who agrees to let your completely inexperienced ass into their kitchen for a few months – and then helpfully kicks it repeatedly and without let-up – will suffice.
So, I set out to get my ass kicked.