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. 

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