"Gimme the girl that's beautiful, without a trace of makeup of on,
Barefoot in the kitchen, singing her favorite song.
Dancing around like a fool, starring in her own little show,
Gimme the girl the rest of the world, ain't lucky enough to know."
~Joe Nichols, Gimme That Girl

...not saying that this is me,
but Nichols sure nailed it when
he wrote the barefoot in the
kitchen line!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dokonale Vařená Vejce: Perfectly Boiled Eggs.

   I once rolled my eyes when I was informed that there was such a wonder as the perfectly boiled egg.  Aside from indifference, I was also skeptical.  Which was a paradox embodied, for how can one truly doubt something that one doesn't care about in the first place?  Insert a sigh, and know that I still shake my head inwardly for having succumbed to the investigation and eventual adoration of perfectly boiled eggs.
   Honestly, it began late one night in my friend's small kitchen.  She was a tired mama of two little sweethearts, but she was already contemplating tomorrow's meals.  While we browsed pinterest for recipes, and swapped cooking tricks, she prepared eggs for cooking.  And then she announced that there was very much indeed the reality of perfectly boiled eggs in this world.
   Given the hour, I refrained from arguing with her, but in my mind, I raised my left eyebrow so high that it could've hit my hairline and still have had doubtful propensities.  Upon awaking the next morning, and being served this celebrated food for breakfast, I fell in love.  Twice.  First of all, I fell in love with evil black dust, aka cracked black pepper.  Another story for another day...  Secondly, I became irreversibly infatuated with perfectly boiled eggs.
   Darlings, I'll walk you through the process.  No rush.  Just you and I, casually and happily boiling an egg to perfection.  The initial key to success would be slipping out to the henhouse, and quietly stealing a warm egg out from under a fussy hen, but if you pinky promise to settle for range free eggs with brilliant, marigold yolks, I shall hold my peace.  Place the beautiful, (hopefully!) freshly layed egg in a pot, and cover it with cold tap water.
   Set the pot on the stove, slap a lid on it, and turn a burner onto medium heat/flame.  Permit the water to reach the boiling point, at which you must set the timer for six minutes, and no longer.  After 360 seconds have expired, please turn off the heat source, and drain the boiling water into the sink, retaining that precious egg.  Douse it in a fresh bath of cold tap water until you can comfortably hold it in your hand without burning your fingers.
   Now comes the fun part.  Gently tap the widest end of the egg on a hard surface so as to crack it.  Peel the entirety of the shell apart from the firm egg white, then rinse once more to remove any bits of egg shell.  Choose a sharp paring knife, and slice the egg in half with one fluid motion.
   Then smile in a self-gratified manner without shame.  You will be admiring a personal masterpiece.  A defined ring of pure white around a sunburst of gold graduating towards the coveted center of glistening, flamboyant tangerine.  Now, lest you become Narcissan in your gaze upon this piece of loveliness, allow me to advise you to consume while warm.
   Grind some evil black dust...sprinkle some grainy Celtic sea salt...slather in nutty pesto...whatever would increase the moment of euphoria.  Or, if you nurture a fiery soul akin to mine, take an intrepid sriracha hot sauce, and create some fireworks on your palate.  Remember, an egg will always taste like an egg, but the texture, darlings, should become a memory of pleasure and permanency.  The gliding alienation of egg white giving way to the first bite, and then the spread of consistent, mellifluous yolk over your tongue. 
   Oh darling, yes, it's fine.  You may run to the kitchen now.  I understand that you have a half dozen eggs that need to be cooked perfectly...this very instant...

The Barefoot Girl

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

letního nápoje: summertime drinks

   Lately, I've found myself grieving internally...about multiple situations in which life has included me.  It's difficult to gracefully accept circumstances, losses, and realities that are unrequested surprises, and as a relaxed, spontaneous individual, I have been rather perplexed at my own propensity to battle recent challenges.  I used to think that I was strong and capable, and that as a family member and as a friend, I could offer a sufficient support in harsh storms.  Now I'm finding that as I attempt a continuation of my presence for those who need me near, I am weak, drained, frightened, and unspeakably sad...  And I don't consider that necessarily a negative truth, but I do so long for blissful moments of silence, healing, and sunshine.  When they arrive, I am nearly drowned in the beauty of being whole and calm: if only for a tiny infinity.
   A kind friend assisted me towards a rather balancing perspective when I lamented to him that life just wasn't fair.  He was patient, but firm.  "Hey...you know life's not fair.  It can be beautiful, cruel, happy, sad, lush, and even barren...but never fair."  Holding in the tears, I understood that he was teaching me to quietly accept the present for what it is...to relinquish my fears, my anger, and my desperate longing for complete perception and control...to embrace the strength of each lesson brought my way, despite my own inadequacies.  And to simply understand that pain is inevitable, but that responding to the pain is a personal choice.
   Yes, grieving is hard, and I'm lost in that hardness.  Thank heaven, I have a beautiful family, and I have a life.  Someday, I'll discover a channel for retrospect, and I will see the reasoning within the inexplicable.  Until then, there are numerous lovely aspects and dynamics of this enigmatic existence that I am appreciating and studying for the mere sake of love.  Because without love, even the best of us are disguising lonely, crippled, lacerated hearts.  At the moment, I'm pretty much in love with summery drinks.
   Being in the culinary world, I am constantly immersing myself in the mental culture, and expansive potential it offers.  One of my deepest interests is watching liquid chefs and mixologists.  Molecular mixology is a bit heady for me, as I tend to bond with original sourcing and evidenced organic structure, but there's something mellifluous and unique about building drinks from ground zero.  I'm the kinda girl who dreams about creating her own coffee bar at home.  Complete with an espresso machine, a wall covered in rows of mismatched mugs, a small refrigerator, and a blender.  Lately, I've been favouring summery, cold drinks...and consuming less coffee.  I don't mind the gradual absence of caffeine in my Mason jar.  I've actually felt slightly healthier.  Exploring different drinks has given me the chance to play with flavour-blending, becoming a muddle-monster, and balancing liquid ratios.  Here are two personal pours that I made up this past week...complete with directions for making your own on the next hot summer's day.

   Gravenstein Tarragon Lemonade.
Muddle 1/2 of a Gravenstein with 2 sprigs French tarragon,
and 1-2 tbsps. unprocessed cane sugar in a Mason quart jar.
Juice 2 lemons, and pour the juice over the muddled mixture.
Add 1 cup of cold water, and 4 icecubes. 
Screw a lid onto the Mason jar, and shake vigourously until
slightly foamy.
Open the Mason jar, and pour the drink through a strainer...
preferably into a secondary, miniature Mason jar. 
Garnish with a slice of Gravenstein, and a French tarragon sprig.
Serves 1.


   CherryCherry Spearmint Lemonade
Muddle 5 whole cherries and 2 sprigs of spearmint,
and 1-2 tbsps. unprocessed cane sugar in a Mason quart
 jar with the juice of 2 lemons.
Add 1 cup of cold water, and 4 icecubes. 
Screw a lid onto the Mason jar, and shake vigourously until
slightly foamy.
Open the Mason jar, and pour the drink through a strainer...
again, preferably into a secondary, miniature Mason jar.
Garnish with a sprig of spearmint...unless that wildly
adventurous bright red screams "Drink me"...
and you decide to obey without the addition of a garnish.
Serves 1.

The Barefoot Girl

Saturday, May 17, 2014

hořkost: bitterness

   there are some days during which i feel a weak pulsing of irritation in my veins.  those days are also caffeine-free.
   on the days when that pulsing is absent, i am plagued by extreme, artificial energy that wears off unless instantly replenished.  blame the coffee bean.  i am now a full-fledged addict, and since it's a legal drug sold in actual coffee shops, i feel no guilt.  however, i do recognize my dependency upon this disastrously acidic stimulation, and i anticipate a future battle between the bean and my brain.  logic and rationality might win.  alternately, i might consciously choose the evil i adore.  yes, we love the substances that kill us...even slowly.
   there's a secret, incredible thrill to sipping so magical and so dark a brew.  then there is that anticipatory sensation of impending exhilaration and increased celerity.  the searing heat burns acid down the throat, and into the caverns of your body, and you know what murderous comfort is.  might not be good for the health, but that liquid invades your being like a catalyst and a comet combined.  and it's a gorgeous thing to rely upon.
   currently, i'm particularly fond of three forms of this fluid euphoria.  cappuccinos, iced coffee, and abundant quantities of dark roast.  let's tackle my addictions: in that sequence.
   cappuccinos?  well, i work with someone who makes a killer cappuccino every morning we're on the same shift.  mounds of dreamy, foamy milk gently sitting on top of a blend of more hot milk and a double shot of espresso.  sometimes there will be tiny, fresh shavings of either nutmeg or cinnamon on top.  there might even be a design swirled into the top layer of foam.  my favorite has been cruelly dubbed "frog in a blender", meaning that artistic tendencies are absent, and all focus was instead bestowed upon flavor and construction.  if i had to forego cappuccinos for a week or longer, it is quite possible that i'd eventually break down on wednesday, and just cry.

   iced coffee...  this cold version of heaven is so versatile.  compact, frozen glasses full of ice, with long drizzles of simple syrup, chilly, white milk, and two shots of espresso poured over the top.  grate a little nutmeg over the concoction, and you're fortified for the arrival of summer.  or the new day.  it's fun for a little nerd like me to fool around with flavored simple syrups...peppermint...chocolate clove...vanilla almond...cinnamon caramel...  using different types of milk can be fascinating as well: goat, sheeps, alternative nut-milks.  if an overtly indulgent mood kicks in, i'll even stir up a bittersweet chocolate glaze, and swirl some around the inside of the glass before carefully packing in the ice.  now that's lovely.  the best iced coffee, to my mind, is a full-bodied dark roast with smoky undertones poured over ice, and topped with thick cream.  the three elements battle for dominance: cold, bitter, and richness.

                                                   Displaying photo.JPG

   ah.  dark roast.  distinct, primal drama.  harsh, bitter strikes against the palate.  burning heat bears the liquid's qualifications, delivering the coveted spike.  undisguised glory: as hideous as midnight, and equally as necessary to the blinding arrival of sunshiney vibrancy coursing through your body.

   these three are my beverage trinity as of late.  i live, high on the strength and continual influx of caffeine.  and i realize with an ironic bitterness that parallels that of coffee, it's my liquid kryptonite.

Monday, March 24, 2014


    Wrapped up in Time, held captive by Obligations, I've been removed from this delightful pastime for longer than I would prefer.  However, the intermission is made more acceptable by the arrival of it's end, in that this next post is dear to my heart.  Every picture is a sweet, compact memory, and I am unlikely to ever again post anything so uniquely special.  Here, I share these pictures with you: which are treasures to me, every time I view them.  Enjoy.

 Great-Grandpa, myself, and Great-Grandma.

 Yup.  I went hippie on my great-granparents', and hunted down an organic section in their local market :)

 Great-Grandma and me.

 The Bosc pears: poached in honeycrisp apple juice, cinnamon, and a smidgen of salt.  I made them on Tuesday morning, and we had them with breakfast. 

 Making a green mess in Great-Grandma's kitchen.  I had to have a dark, leafy greens salad.  (They called me a bunny-rabbit for it!)

The breakfast table...

   Another note-worthy part of our visit to Arizona was when Mum and I ate at Pizzeria Bianco.  Chef, at the restaurant where I work, urged me to attempt going there for a meal, as he had heard about the establishment for quite some time.  We drove into Phoenix on our last day there.  Despite the reputation for having an exhausting waiting list, the family at Pizzeria Bianco whisked us into their restaurant, and seated us at a small table within five to ten minutes.  The meal that followed was a delightful concoction of the following mentalities: quality, originality, minimalism, abundance, and simplicity.  I already want to return.

 Brick exterior.  What's not to love?

 A galvanized tank, with various herbs and leafy greens.  Cilantro, lacinato kale, Italian parsely, rainbow chard, and tarragon...

 Outdoor seating.

 Red, beaten beadboard. 

Their indoor pizza oven.  

 Work station.

They had warm, crusty loaves of bread for sale.  One loaf managed to make it back home with me in my carry-on, before being given away.

 Our farmers' market salad: shaved fennel, fresh citrus wedges, brightly-flavoured Italian parsley, with a lemon, salt, and cracked black pepper dressing.  Light, crisp, and so cleansing.

 Imported sopressata.  Dry, peppery, and a texture that ran in a grain: strong, smooth, and continual.  I enjoyed it immensely.
 Our pizza.  Interesting bit here: the server took Mum's order, only to check with her on one detail.  "The pizza doesn't have red sauce," he told her.  "Is that alright, or do you want us to add sauce for you?"
Mum shrugged indifferently, leaving the decision to me.  I was quiet for lack of proper words, then asked, "What would you recommend?  I trust you to choose."
He smiled with satisfaction.  "No sauce."  Then he scurried away to fire our order.
Yeasty, warm crust, with deliciously burnt air pockets.  Smooth, creamy mozzarella that had been smoked...it made an incredible difference in the over-all impact upon my taste-buds.  An earthy, kindly pork and fennel sausage.  Mesquite-coloured caramelized onions.  Yes, it was delicious.  No, I don't have any leftovers.

 Cappucinos to finish, with pistachio, chocolate biscotti.  Now, the coffee wasn't nearly as good as what my co-worker, Mason, can brew up, but then, he doesn't deposit three slices of biscotti next to the mug, either.

   Arizona: it held two wonderful great-grandparents' whom I was so privileged to meet, many lovely memories, and some of the most enjoyable food I have consumed. 
The Barefoot Girl

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Zajíčci: Bunnies

   Punchline: this post has nothing to do with food.  Now that I've established that fact, here's a secondary piece of crucial information.  This post has everything to do with bunnies.  Inedible bunnies.
   Granted, Annie's produces those little golden cheesy bunny crackers, and I work in a restaurant that serves rabbit as an actual food for actual consumption.  Yet, these bunnies of which I speak are a bit more grandiose.  In multiple regards.
   To be quite honest, I'm not overly attentive to my rabbits.  My oldest sister lovingly cares for my two little ones while I work.  Or don't work.  It's not intentional neglect; more properly termed, it's an easy surrender.  Oldest sister is kind, gentle, and works well with animals.  She also knows my heart when it comes to the bunnies, and I've never known her to care for them in any other manner than that in which I would.
   Back on the vein of my being a poor rabbit mother, I must confess that I feel even more guilty and ashamed of my lack of attention during Zimní: Winter.  It's wet and muddy out in the garden, and my hutch-pampered fluffies are both fastidiously tidy and clean.  Letting them out in a moist jungle of mud is mental cruelty for them...they will not rest until they are back in the hutch, and are licking away vigorously at their coats with tiny pink tongues.  No trace of dirt or earth is permissible to their immaculate selves.  Naturally, I've felt badly during this ongoing deluge of much-needed rain.  It means that the bunnies are cooped up for keeps until the sunshine reinstates itself.
   Being that the sunshine's reappearance is unpredictable, I am grateful to have had the chance to let the bunnies out last week before it rained.  I was at home, happily trimming dead scented geranium branches, and superfluous grapevines on the arbor.  It was sunny, and I was already in the garden, so it seemed only right to release the bunnies into the delights of the garden.  I am glad that I did.  I am even happier that I captured some photographs of them while they romped and sat in the sunshine.

   Both of my rabbits are actually indirect gifts from my great-grandparents'.  They sent me some money for my birthday, and again some at Christmas...something to spend on whatever I wanted.  I usually deposit extra cash, but on the heels of losing my dear Snuggles-bunny a year or so ago, life was lonesome without a rabbit. 
   Snuggles was a Polish dwarf, given to our family by a social worker who had been involved with my adoption.  I've always had an affinity for tiny things, and Snuggles was teeny-weeny.  She was white with black markings, petite upright ears, and a soul.  I knew she had a soul; she loved and understood with depth, and without words.  She was probably sixteen or seventeen when she finally passed, and it grieves me that she's no longer here to enjoy kisses, kale, and sunshine.
   The loss of my Schnuggs made me assume that another rabbit was a good idea.  Maybe I thought that I could recreate the magic of my bunny and me: with a different rabbit.  It didn't work, and I'm still wondering, with some bewilderment, why I have not bonded so deeply and intensely with Kainos and Lindsy.
   Kainos was the first rabbit I bought with the gift money.  She is a Polish dwarf, nearly identical to Snuggles, and the familiarity was healing.  I remember sitting in the car with Kainos while Mum and Abby were in Copperfields Bookstore.  Kainos was making nervous, strained grunting noises, communicating her insecurity and fear.  I talked to her, leaning back into the car's leather so that she could firmly dig her feet a flatter surface.
   I told her about her name, which is the ancient Greek word for time.  It was all about time and timing, I explained.  Time for me to learn to love again.  Timing that had been right when I saw her all alone in the cage, and I had the cash in my coat pocket.  Time...time...time.
   To this day, Kainos and I have a weird relationship.  She politely calls me a rough clod who can't pick a bunny up right (I beg to differ,) and I routinely remind her of her rotund shape.  I not-so-politely call her my Little Fat Football.  Literally, I could tuck her under my elbow, run down an entire field, and score a touchdown.  She's that compact.  I love her.  Remotely and irreversibly.
   Lindsy was a bunny that Mum found online.  It was a local listing from a family that needed to find a good home for their young lionhead rabbit.  I made the call, only to discover that the rabbit was named Becky.  Which is ludicrous, given my first name.  Logically, you cannot adopt a rabbit owned by an eleven year old girl who wants her darling little Becky to be loved in every fashion, with the bunny's name and status being considered unchangeable.  I plunked down the cash, reassured the girl that I would never eat her rabbit- like ever- and then changed the name on the way home.
   The previous family told me that the rabbit was Becky Linus.  The reasoning behind the name is non-existent.  So, taking the l-i-n from Linus, and the -y- from Becky, I created Lindsy.  To this day, Lindsy is still the lanky, silky soft rabbit I initially met.  The only change that I see in her is the continual growth of her mane, which as a lionhead rabbit, is her breed's mark of distinction.
   Lindsy bites, sniffs, and carouses.  She's spunky and hard-headed.  She's curious.  Everything that Lindsy is, Kainos is not.  It's a funny contrast, and it makes me love the bunnies all the more.  They traded personalities whilst I photographed them, strangely enough...Kainos being lively and energetic as Lindsy lounged around.
   For those who were not formerly aware of this fact, rabbits are therapeutic creatures.  I have found great calm and overwhelming peace in the mere action of kissing a bunny between the ears.  Between a bunny's ears you will find the softest, warmest fur.  Your eyes will close, and you will become connected to another living creature.  It is an exchange of vulnerability.  It is a collapse into tranquil simplicity.
   Another major bonus with rabbits is that except in times of extreme distress, bunnies are generally mute, silent animals.  I have never been fond of needless noise, and hence I have always been partial to bunnies for companions.
   Here's to Kainos, Lindsy, and Oldest sister's caring for them.  And here's to the eventual arrival of sunshine, when our desperate need for rain has been satiated.
The Barefoot Girl

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dear Watson: Alotta Food and Alittle Despicable Me

   Recently, my workplace had a staff party.  We were all to bring at least one person.  Or two.  I wanted to bring my Abbylicious.  Aka Watson.  Alas, she was snuffly nosed, and raspy voiced.  So she remained at home, and a party happened at the restaurant.  I dearly missed her.  Watson: this post is for you, with all of my love.

   Well, Watson.  You know the ridiculous details of before the party.  Oh, yes.  I was singing along to Neil Diamond and John Denver while baking trays of lemon bars, and then proceeding to eat at least a 1 1/2 bars for every plate I compiled.  You also saw me crash in front of the computer for an hour, zoning out of reality...embarrassing.  Then getting ready for the party.  You had the immense comfort of lying on your bed, watching instant Netflix while I threw red heels and black sweaters everywhere, yelling at Tim to stay out of the room until a more suitable (and less dangerous) time.  However, Watson, it was quite demanding of you to insist that I "multi-task" while I threw my hair up into a bun and answered texts and panicked at the clock.  Then you had the audacity to laugh at me.  Really, Watson.
   How about running outside and perching the floral arrangements on the rail, adding the flowers last minute?  That was marvelously comical and chilly.  Blah.  Loaded up the car, we did, and refused to hug or kiss your woozy, un-well self.
   After leaving you all by your lonesome to be as sick as you needed to be, we drove to the restaurant.  Oh, and we saw a wicked lifted monster truck.  Just saying...
   Chef and Sous-Chef S. were there...they are always in that kitchen.  It would be odd, somehow, to enter the restaurant, and not find them within their sphere.  You get me, don't you, Watson?  Brrr, it was cold in the restaurant.  On went the heaters and the lights.  Down went the chairs.  Across the floor we dragged the tables, and pretty soon we had the setting for a party.

   Watson.  After B & B-love arrived, guess what B did?  He turned on the music.  Bluesy Christmas music, Watson.  Yes.  No need to say more.  If you had been there, my geek, we would have picket-pocketed his phone, you coulda hacked the password, and we would have switched that Pandora station over to some good old Eric Church or Clint Black.  Next time, I think that we need to rally with Sweet-Tea and her sister to vote for country music...
   While other people were arriving, I got to slip into the kitchen and watch Chef cut up Parker.  That's what I named the porker.  Now, Watson, I am far too familiar with your aversion to whole, porcine presentations, especially when the animal has retained much of it's original shape.  Read me out, Watson.  Chef did a gorgeous job.  See?

    Did I mention that Sous-Chef S. had the funkiness to stick an apple in Parker's coppery mouth?  Oh, my-my-my.  She found the smallest apple she could, and she did her bestest to stuff it into that stubbornly locked jaw.  Chef grinned, wiped his hands on a towel, and together, he and Sous-Chef S. pried that mouth farther open and stuck that apple in.
    B-love was just the cutest, perkiest little thing ever.  She puttered, putting out drinks, greeting all the staff arriving.  Had you been there also, you two woulda killed us with the whole cute-as-a-button-girl-thing you can pull off. 
   Watson, you would have been excited about the variety of food.  Parker the porker, J's kimchi, Mum's salad, A's scrumptious shrimp salad, Sweet-Tea's colorful fruit platter, R's crispy won-tons, D's delicious espresso brownies, and the paella pans.  Yes, the paella pans: full of chunks of warm meat covered in glistening, penny-colored skin, atop roughly chopped onions, carrots, and celery.  Lemon coated arugala filled the chinks, along with hunks of seeded baguettes that were soaking up the dark, flavorful juices on the bottom of the pan.  A giant stone pestle of Chef's salsa verde-esque provided dimension and uniqueness...darnit, gotta say it (forgive me, Chef: quirkiness.) 

   Watson, it was an incredible sight if nothing else. With incredible scent, besides.  When dinner-time began, the sight and the scent were discarded for a triple combination of sight, scent, and flavor.  To taste, to smell, and to view are abilities we ought to treasure and use to their fullest potential. 
   We played a game or three.  The blind tasting game held me in suppressed stitches of laughter.  You cannot laugh when you're directing a game, but it was a rather tempting notion.  Especially when O was pitted against Chef (challenger supreme...who wants to try to beat a chef at flavor guessing?) and she spat out the name of the food (honey) so fast that I don't think Chef even had time to blink beneath that blindfold.  She won out of sheer determination to do so.  Love that fierce spunk.  By the by, B chose the magenta blind-fold: the crazier the better.  Even Mum participated.  And B-love looked darling when she pushed her blindfold up like a bohemian headband.

   Sweet-Tea won the chocolate covered espresso beans.  She guessed 280...the actual count was 273!  Sous-Chef S. won the mystery jar.  Her guess was chex mix- close to trail mix in my mind.

   There was one particular moment when you, especially, were missing.  I was standing behind the bar with some dirty spoons in my hand, watching the folks eat, laugh, drink, and talk.  You needed to be there, because it was one of those happy/quiet/satisfying experiences.  Maybe you can see it in your mind, though, and you will recognize it when you find it some day.  That's a special thought, isn't it?
   If, as your sister, Watson, I ever give of my life to you, these are the elements I would have you retain in your heart and soul: that one can take a person under wing, and do a few important things for them.  Feed them, and nourish their body, fulfill their appetite, satisfy their cravings.  Listen, reply, and look at their eyes as though they are the one and only memory that will ever account when the road ends.  Create moments of laughter: where you find that you're both reaching out to hold each other up, because you're laughing so hard you can barely stand.  And give warm, loving, long hugs.  Hugging creates bonding, trust, and contentment.  In this, Watson, you will do well.
   At the end of the meal, evening, or moment, look inside.  If you have nothing else to give, and you are happier than Agnes was when Gru won that huge, fluffy unicorn for her, then you should be sighing and smiling.  And saying, of course, "It's so _______ I'm gonna die!"
   Love you, Watson.
   The Barefoot Girl.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Laskavost . . . Kindness

    Yes, it has been an incredibly long time since I last posted anything here.  However, neither idleness nor lack of interest in food (or my readers'!) has prompted my temporary absence.  I have been working, and learning.  In a local restaurant.
   Recently, I had to make a transition in the work field.  It was difficult and simplistic all at once.  The need to move on was inevitable; the actual happenstance was more of a struggle.  The new job is definitely more compatible for both myself as an individual, and for my eventual culinary goals.  Bittersweet, I believe the correct terminology would be.
   Every experience at the restaurant has distilled and refined my love for and understanding of the varied souls in the culinary field.  I have walked away from some 4-tops with an incredible loathing for human arrogance and demands, but I have also paused, literally stunned as someone exhibits the deepest forms of kindness.
   This season celebrates God's greatest gift to mankind.  It's a time of giving.  People try to emphasize kindness (if not on the road or in the stores...)  So, in light of the seasonal push towards kindness, and giving, I want to share some beautiful moments that coulda drowned my stupefied self when they occurred.

   I am writing this to the sous chef of our kitchen.  You know exactly who you are.  What you don't know is that you reminded me of the value of life, and the intense impact which words can have upon people.  Upon me.
   Last week, when I was setting your French press and coffee cup on the stainless steel shelf above your prep station, you looked up, and locked solid eye contact.  Then you said, so very sincerely, "You come from good stock, Rebekah."
   Your words were a reassurance to me.  They made some liquidy substance run mascara down my cheeks when I sought a quiet moment at the bread station.  When you said what you did, you had no idea that I was struggling with my past, my history, and everything I don't know...or don't want to know.  My ignorance and my denial were flogging me that evening.  Without knowing this, you reminded me of my family, the ones' who have taken me in, loved me as their own, and placed their brand on my life.  I am proud of that brand.  So, yes, sir.  I do come from good stock.  But then, it takes one and the same to recognize such.

   An odd and rare occurrence, but one day between shifts, we were left without any servers'.  Both the owner, and another employee offered to take any tables that came in, with me filling in on hostessing, bussing, and any minor details.  However, a couple came in wanting a two top, and after seating, watering, and breading them (that sounds strange, but it just means showing them to their table, pouring water for them, and then offering them complimentary bread and butter,) I told J, the fellow employee.  She sweetly urged me to try taking the table's orders, and she'd help me fire them on our POS system.
   It was a positive experience, and the couple never suspected that I was just the busser.  Until the wife asked about a dish, and I didn't know the base of the broth.  A quick chat with Chef told all, and when I returned, the lady joked that she was surprised my lack of knowledge regarding the menu's items.  When I explained the situation, (I was just a fill-in,)  she hoped that I was not offended, which was indeed the case.  An honest question is just so- why would I quibble over that?  Or my own obvious ignorance regarding that specific ingredient?  I don't mind honesty: it's a useful and productive habit.
   For over an hour, I had the pleasure of serving that couple's table.  They were relaxed, kind, talkative, eager to hear about the restaurant and it's recent changes, and how my day was going, while telling me about their holiday happenings.  The give and take was an even flow.  At the end of the meal, before they left, the lady reached out, took my hands in hers, and smiled.  "Once more, my dear," she said, "I hope that I wasn't offensive in my comment."
   "Oh, no.  Not at all," I replied earnestly.  "You were so gracious and accommodating...I couldn't have asked for a better table."
   "Dear," she headed with her husband for the door, "we're so proud to be your first table.  And we'll be back soon."
   At times such as that, only translucent gratefulness abounds for the privacy and quiet of the bread and beverage station.  Laughter, sighs of frustration, and sometimes-tears are commonplace there.  It is my personal preference to share intense emotions with inanimate objects when on the job.  Even when it's inexpressible wonder at the pure kindness of our guests'.

    It has been my honour and privilege to work with a gentle giant who has an enormous heart. We'll call him Mason.  The whole staff was concerned and worried when he accidentally broke all the toes on one of his feet by dropping a keg of wine on it.  He didn't let us baby him, but kept up with his duties and guests'.  It was such a helpless circumstance, and every last one of the restaurant's employees felt badly about the injury.  Some of us tried to cover the tables for him to minimize walking, the bussers' cleared empty plates and glasses; I brought him some green juice to expedite the healing process.
   Recently, I asked him to ring me up on the POS system for the new cauliflower dish that Chef had added to the menu.  Drop.dead.good.  So Mason ordered the dish, and fired it.  He even split a natural cane sugar soda with me when I sat down to eat my meal.  He brought me a knife so as to remove the struggle of deciding whether I should stuff the huge chunks of cauliflower in my mouth, or attempt the slicing of them with my fork's edge.  He plunked down two napkins as well...my eating must have looked ravenously messy.
   After I had consumed every last tidbit of gorgeous purpley graffiti cauliflower, golden cheddar cauliflower, fried! cauliflower, romanesco cauliflower, plump cooked wheat kernels, chopped and toasted almonds, and a perfectly poached egg, I drained the last sip of my lemon-lime soda.  Then I asked Mason for my check.  His whole face smiled, and he shook his head.  "I've taken care of it," he assured me.  Protests and bewilderment did nothing to budge Mason's generous decision and action.  His serene, kindly face continued to smile as I thanked him with all of my grateful heart.  I have always heard that a majority of the culinary world takes tremendously good care of it's own, and I understand that now.  One more time, Mason: thank-you.

  I'll leave y'all with a picture that I took the other evening at the restaurant as the sun was going to sleep.

    And lest I be suspected of Grinch-iniasm, Merry Christmas.
The Barefoot Girl