Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Elevator

Wow.....almost a year since a post!  This is what Facebook does to bloggers!

Here is a story from my youth.  It deals with the same feelings I get whenever I have to serve a wedding cake from Layers.

When I was in high school in New Jersey I somehow wrangled a job working on Wall Street in the summers.  I worked at Smith Barney at 20 Broad Street, in the same building as the actual NY Stock Exchange.  The Exchange took up the first three floors; Smith Barney had floors 9-13.

I worked in the wire room on the 13th  floor.  The 13th was where all the teletype machines that sent and received the orders were, along with the bond traders and the high end institutional traders.  My part was working in the tiny newsroom.  My boss was Richie, a sixteen year old high school dropout from Arthur Avenue in the Bronx…..hard core Italian all the way.  He took me up to Arthur Ave after work one day.....and stole a car to do it.  Cheaper and faster.

In the news room we had a Dow Jones teletype machine and an AP machine.  Our job was to watch the news come over the teletype. Every half hour we typed up a short news bulletin.  We had a big off-set printer to run off the bulletins and a huge pneumatic tube delivery system.  The tubes went directly into every office in the building, including even the bond guys ten feet away from us.

Because we were on deck every half hour from opening to closing, we were allowed special dining privileges in the company cafeteria.  We got free food, and we could load up as much as we wanted of anything we wanted.  We had to either inhale it in 20 minutes, or bring it back up to the news room.  

The cafeteria was on the ninth floor, and I am sure nothing like it exists today…..outside of Google or eBay.  They had full time chefs and waitresses and a wide selection of classic New York City food.  Best of all, were allowed anything we wanted to drink, including the tiny bottles of concentrated Welch’s grape juice….an big status symbol for a 15 year old.  Even then they cost at least fifty cents or a buck….a small fortune if your take home was $64.50 a week.

The 12th floor was heaven to a 15 year old Irish kid from Jersey: the International department.  The traders here had even better suits than the Institutional guys on 13……and they had drop dead gorgeous secretaries and assistants.  Model gorgeous.  In fact, one of my fellow interns back in the day was a gap toothed girl from Florida who became a famous super model in short order.  The International department for some reason did not have tubes, or the girls wouldn’t use them, so Richie and I fought over who got to hand deliver the news bulletins. I was always almost on the point of trying out my high school French on the beautiful French assistant, but could barely croak even in English.  She was a goddess.

My job nowadays would be done by everyone’s cellphone subscription to Bloomberg, but this was the heyday of paper.  The million dollar checks that settled trades between different firms and customers were even hand carried from office to office.  The P&S (Purchase and Sales) department was on the 10th floor and was the destination of the couriers.  In those days the couriers were always old, Eastern European and shabby looking. No such thing as superfit bike messengers.

On the day in question I got the early lunch shift and raced down to the 9th floor for some New York chow mein and Welch’s.  I inhaled my food, got back in the elevator and punched in 13.  Their was a guy already in the car. My co-passenger was an old, short, fat Russian guy…..obviously a courier with his crappy briefcase and ruined shoes.  It was humid and rainy out and the guy’s old wool overcoat reeked like dead wet sheepdogs.  Dandruff fell in drifts out of his oiled up hair.  Worst of all, he had a soggy recently extinguished cigar sticking out the side of his mouth that smelled like burnt hair.  He mumbled something like “Hello!” and his sour breath drove me to the far corner of the car.  He had punched in 10 for P&S, so I only had one floor to ride with him. Thank God.

Up we went to 10.  The door opened and the guy made a move for the door.  He paused for a second, took out his cigar, smiled and let rip a huge, wet fart.  It was massive. Out he went, and the doors closed.  I shrank into my corner….stunned.

Up I went towards 13, safety and fresh air.  No such luck. The elevator stopped at 11 while I was still reeling.  The door opened…..and Voila!  Twenty-one year old Lauren Hutton, the French assistant and another of their model perfect girlfriends stood in the door.  I was trapped alone with the fart, the burnt hair, the B.O. and the sopping dead sheepdogs.
The girls came in, pushed 12, and literally staggered when they hit the stench.  They glanced at me, and all I could do was cringe in my corner.  What could I say?  “C’etait pas moi!”  “It was a Russian guy!”  There was nothing I could do or say.  I was ruined. At 15, my life was over.

The girls exchanged looks and literally bolted from the car at 12.

The rest of the summer Richie made me do all the deliveries to International.  Every time I approached the desk of one of the girls…..or their friends (the word was out)…..they would push back their chairs as far as they would go and look away.  Stinky is here.
Lauren left mid-summer and eventually went on to be the girlfriend of Peter Revson of Revlon fame (who she probably met on the 12th floor) and was off and running on a fabulous career.  She is still around and looking fabulous.  

I bet if I met her today I would still turn bright red and cringe.  Heck, I am cringing as I type this!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Can you say "Mayaguez"?

 My dear friend Alice Green is trying to encourage me to abandon anger in my life.....Anger at idiots, morons, and the socially inept or actual sociopaths does seem to be right up there with Caligula sending his Legions against the sea......Alice has a point.

Here is my point:  Doesn't Evil and Stupidity need to be confronted? Too many people don't seem to even notice either....much less confront them.  Looking at the available tools.....Anger seems to be the most useful.

So....deep breath.  Hold that breath for four months......At some point I defer to Bob Dylan: "What kid of price do we have to get out of going through all these things twice?"

What ever happened to intelligent dialogue?  Facts, history, experience, respect, the thrill of battle against opposing ideas and the glory of compromise that moves us all forward?

Done and dusted.....

My dearly beloved brother Rob was at one time entranced....or at least attracted.... to John McCain for his various feisty, principled stances on policy.  Rob died in 2001, and so did any sense of propriety and reality in anyone connected to Senator McCain...

Every single thing that President Obama is now trying to move forward with is now being tied up by Republican opposition.....not from any rational argument, just because.  Because....?

I am not a huge fan of the President.....I am on record as saying in print that Leon Panetta has a tiny little penis for continuing the attacks on privacy and personal freedom that started with Dick Cheney and George Bush....and were enthusiastically continued under our current President.

Don't start me on Medical Marijuana.....

Or ICE and Immigration.....

Democrats have always sucked.....They just suck less than modern Republicans....


Senator McCain and his buddies continue to bring up Benghazi as some kind of boogie man and tar-baby that is supposed to discredit every appointee that President Obama Secretary of State, no Secretary of Defense, no head of the CIA will be allowed because Obama did not rescue four guys in Benghazi in September, or Obama somehow lied about it.

We (Cachagua General Store) are locally famous for putting thousands of crosses on Carmel Beach to recognize our lost sailors, soldiers, airmen and Marines on Memorial Day.  Our display was only made possible by help from some of those very Marines who did the groundwork.  I have kept track of them...most are OK.  Some not.  (We won't talk about the never spoken of effect of getting hit by an IED and surviving....and having your balls and dick blown off a few months after your wedding to your sweetheart....No one wants to pay that bill). Or even acknowledge it......

Others of my Marines are in task forces hovering in various places....some in the Med.  These guys and gals are ready to respond to any crazy thing that might happen anywhere from Rome to Malta to Benghazi.  Helicopters, jets, bombers, Special Forces, Seals, Delta.....whatever.

One thing they don't do.....and no one in the military will randomly fly into somewhere with our overwhelming skill, bravery and technology without local knowledge of what is going on on the ground.


Common sense.....and the "Mayaguez".

After the Vietnam War was over...way back in the day in 1975.....some random Khmer Rouge idiots captured a US container ship off Cambodia.

Long story short.....our response was unprepared, hyperbolic, with little info on the situation on the ground....and we wound up losing more Marines in the rescue than those sailors exposed on the ground.  Not one of the captives from the Mayaguez died....but the rescue crew was frankly humiliated.  Three captured Marines were executed in public, and the US could do nothing about it but watch. Not to mention the ten killed in the uniformed assault.

From Wikipedia:

The Mayaguez incident took place between the Khmer Rouge and the United States from May 12–15, 1975, was the last official battle of the Vietnam War. The names of the Americans killed, as well as those of three U.S. Marines who were left behind on the island of Koh Tang after the battle and who were subsequently executed by the Khmer Rouge, are the last names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The merchant ship's crew, whose seizure at sea had prompted the U.S. attack, had been released in good health, unknown to the U.S. Marines or the U.S. command of the operation, before the Marines attacked. It was the only known engagement between U.S. ground forces and the Khmer Rouge.

For John McCain to use the Benghazi incident as a bludgeon against President Obama and his appointees and his policies is an act of breathtaking hypocrisy.

Ever been to the Vietnam Memorial?  It will still your heart......You will sob like a schoolgirl.  So many dead young people. 

And when you get to the end......the kids from the Mayguez.

Killed by bad intel, no intel....political over-reaction......and letting the civilians get in the way of the pros. 

Obama and Secretary Clinton are only guilty of having learned from history, and having decided to not repeat it....regardless of the temporary cost.

Senator McCain......what can I say?  When hard core, life long, Republican gung ho Marines are embarrassed by your behavior because it is against all rational modern military tactics and policy.....Just to score "political points"......You have jumped the shark, buddy.

There is a reason not a single one of his fellow residents of the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam supported his bid for the presidency......

If our carriers had responded to the attack in Benghazi.....and we had Marine helicopters shot down and lives lost, and captives executed.....hours after any realistic possibility of helping our four State Department workers.....what would he have said?  Support for the President's decision to send in troops with no intel?  I am so sure......

Oh.....and the ultimate hypocrisy: Senator McCain voted with his "brothers" to cut the security budget for the State Department as part of their crusade to cut "wasteful" government spending.

Once an authentic hero.....maybe. Or not.

Now just a rancid piece of shit stuck to all of our shoes......


Now denying the approval of a Secretary of Defense....during wartime.....for the first time in the history of our country.

I think "shit" would be offended to be compared to John McCain......

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Let's Roll.....

Not to be a drag at the an irregular handball fan (oops, I mean football...they do kick every now and then) I was looking forward to looking back tomorrow for the Super Bowl.
I remember being on the road to a famous 49'ers house (YA Tittle) for a party when "The Catch" happened. Joe M and a bunch of Niner's crashed the dinner party.  If you ever want to buy a Porsche, I have the hook-up.
 We did Jim Plunkett's wedding..... with all the Niners present (I gave Randy Moss his own bottle of Jack and he fell down and broke his leg). The full story involves: a six-pack of piss, chocolate hand prints, Farmer's Market pasta.....
We used to rent a house at Alpine on MLK/Super Bowl week and ski and ski on empty slopes, just checking in from time to time as the Niners beat the Bengals or whoever bothered to show up. Being a Niners fan was being close to God.
 Bill Walsh was a client...we served him dinner four days before he died.

Still, the air ran out of my balloon when Idiot Boy Culliver went on his anti-gay rant the other day.
"I ain't into the sweet room in our locker room for that shit".

I was impressed at the Niner brass response.....and then:

Two other knucklehead Niners realized that the video they made for "It Gets Better" was directed to bullying yes, but specifically anti-LGBT bullying.....and withdrew their support, and even denied having made the video!  South Pacific Islanders being paid millions of dollars a year are not cool with bullying....some group of people....but not gay people.  Perhaps they didn't notice that in Polynesian culture there are actually at least three sexes....and last year one of the "other" sexes actually made a local national soccer team.  
Well, reading is really hard.....

Every sport team on the planet made an "It Gets Better" video....even Canadian hockey teams. (Love Canada and hockey (Ken Dryden....the Abraham Lincoln of Canadian hockey is my fraternity brother from Cornell).
 Did these morons ever hit the bars in the city they play for? Are they so dumb that they don't realize the hottest chicks they ever got a lap dance from this year weren't probably actually "chicks"? Have they even checked in with their own culture?

I am grumpy and depressed. I just had to write an essay about my near miss with 9/11 for a book (I was drunk on good champagne and great Calvados and missed Flight 93). 
The main guy behind "Let's roll!" on that flight was a gay friend of mine from PG who played on the gay rugby team out of Berkeley....and, like all rugby players, any other team he could find. Even lame-ass straight alcoholics in Monterey. (I wound up at CHOMP for alcohol poisoning after my first practice. Practice....not a game.)
 He was a lock...meaning a big guy who would kick your ass and run like a deer. 
 Rugby doesn't need's flesh to flesh, and bone to bone. Or time-outs. Pussies need not apply. There is a keg on the sideline and a jar of Vicodin, not oxygen tanks, Culliver. We play for 45 minutes pun intended...without commercial breaks and time to gasp. 
 No rugby player I ever met ever disrespected a gay player.....I guess the dregs drift towards "football".

Go Niners......
Let's roll......

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Get thee hence.....

In deep Carmel Valley the few businesses that still operate... generally work in an environment that is so cooperative and mutually supportive that it would give any hedge fund manager the heebie jeebies. Wineries trade glass, fruit, materials, staff and expertise. Restaurants exchange staff, fish, suppliers, deliveries, etc and rarely even tally up the pluses and minuses. 
 "In fifty years....none of this will matter!" Pierre Merle, Ithaca, NY (1972) 
This extends to town.....I am thinking of Mundaka. 
When a local business acts in a way that is so violent, egregious and contrary to both to our local economic world, but more importantly to our social and familial world....this business needs to be ostracized. 
Cast out....for fear of infecting the stability of our creative world. 
Silvestri Vineyards is that business. 
I will go on in exquisite detail later.....but suffice it to say that if you purchase one of their wines, or allow it to pass your lips, please consider yourself no longer my friend.....or my acquaintance....or someone who is even welcome to set foot in my humble business. Your money and custom are toxic to me and the other quality business in our Valley. 
If you buy or drink their wines you will not only upset our local, cooperative, pacific world view.....but I have doubts about the safety of your soul. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The General and I...

General George Patton is one of my cultural know, the guy you say you want to meet if you could meet anyone in history.  OK, Jesus, Mohammed, Einstein, Edison....whomever.  I have my William Blake, Vatel, Vercingetorix, Sir John Moore, Captain James Cook....and Patton.

George is at least on my short list. I have my reasons, at least three: 1) George was an asshole, I am an is like Rotary, or Elks; 2) I met my first wife on a blind date to see his movie "Patton", a date that ended with English  racing bikes and a high speed police chase, successful evasion...and three beautiful children 30 years later; and......3) George's raspberry jam swap.

General Patton was too successful as a general during WWII.  He made Monty look like an idiot more than once, caused Ike political problems with his tactical skill and success.....and was therefore relegated to the Bavarian, Bohemian and Austrian part of the US Army's finishing push in WWII.  Like getting the table next to the kitchen after putting out fire in the fat fryer and saving the restaurant.

Patton was a good enough general that there are still statues to him in public squares in Prague and Vienna....Go try to find a George Bush statue anywhere in Iraq or Afghanistan. Or a Reagan statue in Grenada.....Or a Clinton statue....anywhere outside the porn store.

Anyway, at the tail end of the war, somewhere east of Vienna, George's III Corps finally linked up with the Russkies coming from the East, and the Brits coming from the north and west.  All kinds of politics ensued, among which was the raspberry jam trade.  

The Brits had agreed to trade some canned beef to the protein-starved Russians in exchange for some jam.  What they got was 'orrible, salty, shite.  General Patton stepped in to stop the problem, soothe the anger.....and replaced the horrible, salty shite with good old Smuckers raspberry jam from Salinas. As part of the deal, George kindly took in the awful salty Russian shit to avoid offending the Commies.  Brits were ecstatic.  Russians were happy.

General Patton and his team wound up with a metric tonne of fresh Caspian caviar. Oh, damn!

We live on the northern slope of Tularcitos Ridge....looking across at Silvestri and Rancho Sin Frenos, the Wilson Ranch and Mount Diablo.  You can't see our house on Google because we are buried in oak trees.  This is great in summer...not so great in huge oak pollen years.  In spring, we all eat Sudafed like candies, and I am sure the FDA has a file on our household...because they don't give allergy medicine to just anyone.  

And this year is the biggest oak pollen year in human memory.

Last Tuesday I took a vacation in my own house.  

Picture that. 

I found part of the deck with nice sun, protected from wind and the neighbors by my Meyer lemons and my Aussie finger limes.  Sipped mango puree and champagne Bellini and read Berlin Noir novels for a couple of blissful hours.......and got second degree sunburn for my troubles...but hey.  

Today I came home from work and set out to groom my little spa area.  Maybe another day off in the picture! Pounds and pounds of oak pollen and leaves everywhere.

As I was cleaning up the mess I had to think about the best restaurant in the world after the closing of El friggin' Denmark, of all places.  The chef there, Rene Redzepi, bases his cuisine on all the weird plant, animal and sea life in his tiny country....and the whole world flocks to his door.  Wild rose hips.  Seaweed.  Brambles.

After a few minutes of pushing metric tonnes of oak pollen off my deck, and hoping that Gruet would be an equitable replacement for the pseudophedrine I have maxed out with Obama.... I started thinking about General Patton.

Back when the Masters of Food and Wine was good....when David Fink was in charge, and it was at the Highlands, and actual real chefs got to work together and exchange
ideas and grow our sport/livliehood....(as opposed to the LexusSwarovskiRolexAllClad Pebble Beach Hog Wallow we are cursed with now...)  one ingredient that David Kinch turned us on to was fennel pollen.

Like saffron, fennel pollen comes in small cans and is crazy expensive.  It is pretty, has....some flavor, and is cool. And beautiful.

And here I am sweeping metric tonnes of indigenous oak pollen off my decks with a vengeance.  And thinking about George Patton and the caviar v raspberry jam trade.

So...General Patton's ghost and I are willing...for a small price, possibly in exchange for Caspian caviar, fennel pollen, saffron, Danish wild rose hips or brambles...or Smuckers Raspberry let go some of our stash of Native Californian Wild Live Oak Pollen. 
If I can hire a master chef with 30 years experience for ten bucks an hour from IHOP....I am sure I can find a recent under-employed Cal Poly Ag grad, or a similarly under-employed Stanford poetry grad to describe the incandescent, ethereal yet visceral essences of our Native Wild Live Oak pollen.

 Contact our agents.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Flap vs Skirt.....The Horror!

Last Monday we had a customer send back his Mesquite Grilled "Skirt" steak in a rage....because it was patently NOT a skirt steak.

He would not eat such an abomination, wouldn't pay for it, and was taking it home to his dog. And...... he wants to have a long talk with me about meat.

He has a meat company, you see.....

Not sure how he figured all that out, but he was right. We serve a "Flap" steak, not a "Skirt".
At the same time, during the same meal service, another customer was having our "Skirt" steak. The next day, her husbandcalled me up....(Oh, Jesus, no!)...and kept me on the phone for 30 minutes going on about how it was the best piece of meat he or his wife had ever eaten.


So here's the deal: we are the Cachagua Store.

We are in Cachagua, not Manhattan, or Paris, or even Carmel. We bust our balls
to give nice food at a nice price....and with luck......only moderately hostile and incompetent service.

If you actually want to know
everything about every ingredient in our menu go to and you can see all our sources.

On the other hand, if you are at a table, in Cachagua...with Heather or Shavaun taking your order....time is of the essence. We are the culinary Dutch boys with our fingers in the holes in the dike. There is not a lot of time for education and explanation...and we hope that there might be at least some degree of trust in a diner that has driven 45 minutes into the mountains to eat.

We sometimes lie.

As do all restaurants, butchers, fishmongers and grocers. Lying about your food is not a crime...since none
of the food from any of the above is packaged. Lying about your food is bad, but it is not a crime. As a diner or shopper you can get redress through the courts...but with a civil lawsuit, not through poor beleaguered Sheriff Miller.

And, should you be successful in your lawsuit, you will only be entitled to the difference between what was promised and what was served or sold. So, if Whole Foods sells you farmed salmon worth $5 a pound instead of Scottish wild at $15, you can sue them for the ten bucks........assuming you have paid the $200 for the lab processing of the DNA sample to prove your case.

(I have the address of the lab if you want
to go this route. I have done it, and no one cares. Well, Sam Farr cares...DiFi, Boxer, Potter, Maldonado, Bill the Thrill Monning and the other poseurs representing us could care less...but that is another story).

Ditto Sand Dabs.....No one in Monterey serves real Sand is all frozen shite from China. We serve real Sand Dabs...and we can only get them once or twice a month. We pay $2 a pound....less than the frozen shite you are buying at your corner bistro. If you sue them for misrepresenting your dish, you will have to pay them a few dollars if you win. Real sand dabs are cheaper than fake sand dabs.


Anyway...back to flaps and skirts.

Back in my soccer coach life I found that I had to become a certified trainer just to keep my kids on the field. Most were Mexican kids with no hope of ever seeing a medical doctor, or Carmel kids with no hope of ever seeing a medical doctor. I became a certified sports massage therapist at M.I.T....Monterey Insitute of Touch. (Highly recommended).

I also am a recovering body builder (hey....she was really hot! And smart!)....and a life-long Latin speaker. Catholic. Altar boy. And a recovering apprentice union butcher in New York City.

Anatomy is the main deal in massage and sports medicine...and butchery. We humans, and our companion animals, are just big, soft Erector-Sets.

And..... all meats from all animals have been organized by union labor into a series of codes....... defining each cut and each section of anatomy involved. Each code has been laboriously pounded out on the battlefield
of worker vs. grower vs. processor vs. consumer. NAMP codes. North American Meat Processors Association

For instance...a filet of beef is a NAMP 1190. With the silverside off it is an 1190a. Center cut filet, silverside off is 1190b. Lamb rack chops are 1204b...and the bone cannot be more than 3 inches from the eye. When I first came to California I would saw off the extra bones on my lamb racks and send them back for credit....everyone was amazed, and stopped selling me lamb racks.

You will not be shocked to know that none of these codes apply in California....... where almost all meats are
processed by non-union labor.....who could not identify the codes in English numbers.... with a gun to their heads.

Back to beef.

Our most famous Central Coast only cut of beef is the tri-tip. We locals are all bored with tri-tip, but it doesn't actually exist
outside of California, and a few places in Texas where vacationing Texans have brought it back. This is crazy, because tri-tip is clearly a NAMP 185c or 185d......available, in theory, to all union meatcutters all over the world.

In New York City it was known as a Newport, because union butchers all smoked Newports and the Newport logo is a triangle. And the tri-tip presents as a triangle.

The tri-tip is one of my favorite cuts of beef...and one of my favorite muscle names: tensor fascia lata. I love saying "tensor fascia lata".

Tensor fascia lata is your hip runs between your oblique muscles on your lower torso and your upper thigh. It attaches at your illiac crest and inserts in the IT band that runs down the outside of your thigh. The IT Band is the one where the massage therapist puts in her elbow and you scream like a little pig.....

Now...on to skirts and flaps.

The skirt steak is either the straight diaphram muscle of the cow, with the peritoneum removed (outside skirt), or more commonly the inside skirt, which is the transversus abdominus. This is NAMP code 121c or 121d.

The TVA, as body-builders know it, attaches at the lower six ribs, the illiac crest, and inserts down at your pubis. If you want to work your TVA you move
your belly button in to your spine...without sucking in. Hold it, and feel the burn. The TVA helps with breathing by contracting to inhale, and expanding to exhale.

The flap, on the other hand, is the obliquus abdominus internus. Flap is NAMP code 185a. Flap, or rather, obiquus abdominus internus, has a Facebook page!

Bodybuilders call it the OI. Here is the bodybuilder take on ab muscles.....

It, the muscle....not the Facebook page..... is located right next to the TVA. It runs from the lower four ribs, the illiac crest, and down to the pubis.
It also helps with inhaling and exhaling, and also helps turn and flex the torso.

Sound familiar?

It does also attach at the lumbodorsal fascia...around by your lower back. And it nestles next to our old friend tensor fascia lata.

When removed from
the cow (or the human) it is collected with the lower back and upper leg muscles....and it actually flaps.

It's very near neighbor, the skirt, is typically trimmed out when the filet and the other upper
body muscles are removed.

Both the flap and the skirt attach to the inguinal ligament in in "pucker up"....pull in your balls!

Finally...Americans are dicks when it comes to language. We like short names. Pommard as opposed to Savigny-Les-Vergelesses. Chateau Du Cru Beaucaillou only became popular when hedge fund dickheads started calling it DuCru.

Pinot is so much easier to say then Cabernet. Forget Zinfandel. Probably socialist.

Flap is a short name...but a horrible name. The other name for the cut is "Bavette". This sounds like a sleazy French guy trying to sell you cow balls and assholes with a fancy name....and you would not be far wrong. "Bavette" names a half dozen different cuts in France.

And.....our flap is Akaushi.

With us, even though there are a dozen varieties of Wagyu beef, and we serve Akaushi...we will sometimes call it "Kobe"..........just to not have the conversation about the differences.

like "Kobe". Akaushi sounds scary, and probably socialist, like the Zinfandel.

And by the way, good Zinfandel is awesome with Akaushi.

Obama probably likes it.

Obliquus Abdominalis Internus opposed to "Kobe Skirt"?

Shut up. you know all about the difference between "flap" and "skirt".

Do you want to hear all this when you are out with your honey?.....

Or do you want to just enjoy your experience...... and trust your friends....and their expertise?

In Ireland we say: "Why have a dog and bark yourself?"

We will take care of the anatomy, the Latin, the politics....and it will be delicious.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Living the dream......

Posting this without permission.......from a friend seeking work as a "stage" (ie, free kitchen worker...) in Spain. He tracked some of our favorite spots, even worked in them.....and hated some for being horrible scumbags......

I am posting this because I find Eric's thoughts charming.....if way overly self-deprecating.....and the mere fact that he is actually thinking, working and struggling gives me hope.

The 99%, right? We should be so lucky......and maybe we are.

Hi Michael,

In your last email you said it was good to hear that I’m living the dream, and in my last email I too felt like I was living a dream – the Spanish cooking adventure – but you probably noticed that my dreaminess also left me giddy and confused – dreaming in the wrong ways – and that there was a certain basic stupidity to the way I was going about things. (Immature, unprofessional, naïve, et cetera). I mean, my plan was to start staging at a handful of places that I really didn’t want to be staging at just because by that point I had gotten desperate for anything, and I suspect that I seemed like a child lost in the dark to you as I tried to convince myself (vicariously, through you) that I would be happy and learn a lot and be on my way to bigger and better things if I just got started somewhere, anywhere…your silence has actually been very helpful to me. Not the night-light of encouragement I thought I was looking for (as I stumbled around groping the walls, trying to find my way to the kitchen) but something better: a different kind of light, a light for me to turn inwards and examine the reasons why I’m stumbling around looking for the kitchen in the middle of the night anyway...and I realized that maybe the cookies in the cookie jar aren’t really so great as they sound, and maybe I should be looking for other things instead…

Real life: after one week of staging at that first place – the place with the traditional and innovative mix, where the chef wasn’t so great but living with his brother was interesting – I quit. I couldn’t handle it. I mean the food was shit, but probably more importantly for me the people were shit, so the whole experience was shit, and I realized (inward light) that I don’t have enough genuine cooking integrity to persevere through such things. I’m too picky, too idealistic, too sensitive, and probably ultimately just too weak. I don’t want to work in anything but my ideal conditions, which is an impossible way to start building a career, and (more inward light) by this point I’m 99.9% sure that I should be looking for whatever it is I’m looking for (a “good life,” I guess) elsewhere.

So I left that restaurant and spent a few weeks at a farm/restaurant in Bordeaux, and now I’m back in Spain at another farm. Outside-living, and working hard without an asshole-boss, and getting dirty and tired and cooking/eating good food (instead of shitty staff meals) makes me very happy. I think farming would be a good way for me to live, but also a difficult way to provide for any kind of uncertain future…so I’m thinking to start studying existential psychology in London in January. Maybe this sounds crazy to you (the lost child in the dark again), and sometimes it sounds that way to me too, but also I see it as a good way to deepen my focus on what matters most in life. For me cooking was always mostly about trying to get to the essence of human life anyway. (Which of is a fine idea, but of course another bad way to start building a career in professional kitchens).

The jamón we have curing here, the wine fermenting in the bodega, the rabbits we slaughter and eat with potatoes slow-cooked in the ashes of the fire; the fire from the oak-tree we cut into pieces on that sunny afternoon with the Pyrenees filling the horizon and the cold wind sweeping down their snowy slopes and blowing at my face – this is much closer to the “good life” I’m looking for than the endless compromises and petty bickering that seems to constitute life in most restaurants that serve their guests anything like a decent meal.)

Anyway, don’t want to take too much of your time. Hope you’re doing well.

All the best,