Ok. First and foremost, before I forget. I absolutely LOVE the fact that over here, clubs or places that people go dancing are called discos. The disco!! Because in my world, disco is an era or something that is long over with... But here, a disco is a club and the cool place to go to. I LOVE it!! I crack up everytime I hear it, I can't help it. Before I leave, I MUST go to the disco.
Now on with what I was originally going to write about: I started work today!! I can tell, from day one, it's going to be very difficult and challenging, but I already love it!! There is something about being in the kitchen, surrounded by food and people all working towards the same goal, that is therapeutic for me. I haven't cooked or been in a kitchen since December 27th and let me tell you it feels fantastic!! I ache all over, my left arm hurts from shucking oysters, I have little cuts and scrapes all over my hands and it feels soooooo familiar!! My life is back!! My purpose has returned! I can't understand a word anyone says, but when I'm standing there, supreming orange after orange or hand rolling trays of grissini, it doesn't matter! I'm back to what I love, speaking the same language through my hands. Through all my senses for that matter. The sight of breads and produce, the feel of a knife in my hand, the smell of extremely fresh fish, the sound of onions sizzling in a pan, and the taste of newly made chocolate hazelnut gelato!?! Are you kidding!! I'm back!!!!!!! My soul was floating and it came running back to me. Sprinting, actually. In reality, this job is going to be difficult. No question. It's a teeny tiny, tightly run, Michelin star Italian kitchen; Chef Sartini was cooking with us all day and watching over everyone. It's nerve wracking trying to stage in a kitchen on the first day when the menu is completely foreign and all the cooks have a different technique from what you're used to. It's a different story when it's that PLUS a language barrier. But, as I reminded myself all day long, I am here to cook. And cooking is what I will do. And it's what I love.
There were SOOOO many moments today that I was thanking people I have cooked with in my head. I was told to supreme oranges. Thank god Nancy Silverton taught me how to do that during one of my shifts at the mozzarella bar. I was told to roll grissini. Thank god Paulina and Armida showed me how to EVENLY roll long strips of dough since grissini is basically a cooked pici noodle. I was told to weigh out several ingredients for pastry. Thank god Stefan taught me the importance of precise and very accurate measurements. I was told to shuck oysters. Thank god for the guy in charge of some booth at the pebble beach food and wine festival where I had to shuck hundreds of them. Then I was told to go faster. And last, but most DEFINITELY not least, thank GOD for Chef Chris (although he would say "dont thank god, thank me.")who always told me to speed through the easier tasks to accumulate more time for the tasks you need to slow down on. And who instilled in me the meaning of working as fast as you can without sacrificing quality. And who also taught me, and beat in to my head, to never be a pansie. Thank you thank you THANK YOU! Seriously.
For the millionth time, as I'm sure you're all tired of hearing it, the language thing is my biggest challenge. I was paired with Betty, the pastry cook, and I owe this girl so much already. She was so patient with me all day and tried her best to explain things to me; she spoke Italian and charades and I spoke English, charades and Italian words. Im still in the process of learning the Italian words for kitchen tools, ingredients, equipment, etc. by asking "come si dice questa in Italiano?" (how do you say this in Italian?). Betty was great at answering, but I think I started to over do it because after awhile, she politely informed me that I should just work and she would answer more questions tomorrow. Hahaha, I had to laugh. I can only imagine what it's like to have a huge list of things to do, be in the weeds (a cooks way of saying you're behind or slammed with work), and have this dead weight constantly asking in a terrible Italian accent "how do you say this in Italian?" ha!! So a few times, I ended up walking over to the center of the small kitchen, charading out what was suppose to be a blender and making blender noises, and asking people where the blender was. I got a few blank stares and a few laughs too, but its all part of the learning process. And I found the blender. So it's effective. =P
After work, Danilo invited a few of us over to his house for dinner because his mom was making pasta. Oh, was she making pasta!!! I walked in his house to see a blanket of thinly stretched dough covering the table. She then rolled it up, very precisely, sliced through it like a machine, and unravelled beautiful strands of fresh tagliatelle pasta! Dear god!! Then, she drops it in the boiling water while Danilo, who worked all day, had no problem heating the bolognese sauce and finishing the pasta. Mama Danilo boiled pasta, Danilo sauced and finished the pasta, and Papa Danilo made an arugula salad, warmed Piadina, and sliced prosciutto because they happen to have a slicer and a leg of prosciutto in their kitchen. Voila! A real Italian home cooked meal. Family style. Unbelievable! We sat around the table, ate, drank Sangiovese, and enjoyed being together. Id like to say I started to have somewhat of a breakthrough because I started to understand what people were talking about. Everyone was speaking Italian and I kid you not, started to really understand!! I was so excited! I couldn't repeat to you any of it. But understanding is the first step. It's kind of like a movie: you can't repeat it or explain it to anyone until you understand first. At least, that's my logic.
Anyways, I have work tomorrow from 830-12 and then again from 6- whenever service is over. I need to shower, stretch, tend to my cuts and scrapes, and unwind with some good music. Day one at Righi la Taverna= success.