05 September 2011

Week in Review #3 - 'Hot Behind!'

Fifteen days into culinary school, and I think I've learned more French culinary terms than my dog has learned English commands in nearly five years. Take from that what you will.

The third week was both a throwback and a kind of sneak preview for me. A throwback because I took my first tests in more than a decade. And a sneak preview because the class is in a type of prep cook period – we chop ingredients and watch them go into cooking demonstrations. We break down, say, parsley and potatoes, or make mirepoix for stocks that are later used in mother sauces, or hand-whisk mayonnaise until our shoulders scream, "no más!"

The food safety and sanitation stuff has, frankly, caused more grief than comfort in my everyday life. The wife and I took home leftovers from Neptune's Net, and all I could think about was the host of foodborne pathogens associated with fish and shellfish, which I'd crammed into my brain for the test. I wasn't paranoid enough to ask restaurant management where they source their shellfish (the primary prevention method for shellfish poisoning is "purchasing from reputable sources" according to ServSafe), but it was on my mind.

It also doesn't help that the advertising push for Contagion is in full gear.

Technique of the Week

Some good ones in the running, including monter au beurre and the proper way to mince parsley, both from Day 14. However, I taught my wife the basic safety language of the kitchen, which is both pragmatic and fun.

It includes saying, "Knife!" when carrying a knife and shouting, "Hot behind!" when either carrying something hot behind someone or trying to sexually harass someone. Preferably someone who will not sue because you're married and/or in an extended relationship with them.

Injury Report

The consecutive non-cutting streak has reached fifteen days. I did burn myself at home trying to mimic the roast chicken with pan gravy at home. After removing the chicken and pan from a 400-degree oven, I tried reaching past the handle and singed my wrist. Maybe the chef's uniform has magical protective powers since I seem to always nick myself at home, but never at school.

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