happy BASTILLE day!
it’s the day the French fought hard for their independence from the British so many years ago! wait. that’s not right. um….from the queen cause she ate too many cakes! no, that’s not right either. i’m sure they were mad about something, cause it’s really not like the French to stand up and protest. probably had something to do with foie gras.
so, it’s Bastille Day, which basically the 4th of July for France…everyone’s off work, partying hard, watching fireworks, drinking FREE booze provided by the pompiers (firemen)…in any one of their designated party spots alllll over town. really. how handy that they have more than one party in more than one place! it would make it virtually impossible to miss this fête-making opportunity because you’re guaranteed to live within stumbling distance of at least one or two, if not more. and it’s free! but. yes. i missed it. last night. because i had to work at 8 am today. and everyone else got the day off.
i digress. today i was lucky to be chosen to WORK! i’m trying really really really REALLY hard to take it as a compliment that this one particular chef chose me, little ole ME, to work one-on-one with him on this incredibly rainy morning. and i’m definitely not taking it as punishment for speaking shitty french or screwing up one too many things yesterday morning. yes, definitely not taking it as that. absolutely.
so i arrive at 8, secretly hoping that it would be me and at least one other staigiare working with this one solo chef, you know, to take the pressure off, speed up the day, whatnot. nope. just me. me and him.
let me add that this chef is kinda “intense.” like…run around at 800 miles and hour, if you get in his way you’ll be knocked over, works fast, talks fast, yells commands, etc intense. when i say talks fast, i mean FAST, and it’s FRENCH (of course).
don’t get me wrong, he’s an amazing chef. he works fast and very efficient. he’s very good at what he does. and he has an amazing amount of knowledge. but he’s a little serious sometimes. and he’s definitely a slave driver. and today i was riding shotgun. in a smart car.
(seriously, he’s a very very nice guy. and i’ve seen him make jokes! it’s all good)
but i was really hoping that he’d have just a teeny bit of work to do. no such luck. damn you, ice cream, you and your freaking summerness.
1. arranged ice cream cartons
2. assisted with packing and labeling ice cream into said cartons
this is an exhausting process because they’re super concerned that the shit doesn’t melt of anything before we get it packed up and in the freezer again. it’s all RUSH RUSH RUSH. whatever.
3. cleaned ice cream machine
i was designated the “cleaner” for the day. again, my luck runneth over.
4. roasted and chopped pistachios
to be used in pistachio ice cream, naturally.
5. repeat #1-3 with a different flavor of ice cream.
wait. it’s important to note that the ice cream they make isn’t just one flavor. no! that would be too easy. the flavor combos are always a melange of something and something. so so they make a separate something-flavored ice cream, layer it in the bottom of a pan, then make a second something-flavored ice cream which they layer on top. so when it’s packed (by hand), you have to make sure to scoop all the layers into the carton. basically double the work. A+.
(they’re worth it tho)
6. made pistachio ice cream mix
this has to sit and “cure” overnight for some reason. ice cream is that way. always.
7. ran around in circles grabbing a bunch of crap in the basement that the chef wanted.
and then had to run it all back downstairs afterwards. repeat. a lot.
8. wash dishes
9. measure ingredients for a chocolate cake or something
fun to note too that the day wore on and on and…there was no break. every 30 minutes or so, the chef would nip out to have a smoky treat (smoke a cigarette, people), leaving me there sifting shit or sticking my head deep inside an ice cream maker. meanwhile, my mouth felt like i’d just eaten a kilo of cotton balls. i was so thirsty.
(i finally got a cup of water about an hour before we finished. don’t worry or anything, i’m not ACTUALLY a slave there. i can be a bit-overly dramatic. sometimes.)
10. ran more shit back and forth and around in circles
11. sifted 3 kilos of powder sugar
12. moved all the empty ice cream cartons back into the dry storage room
they call this room the “cave” (yes, french for basement or thereabouts). i call it creepsville cause you literally walk through a short door in the food storage area into a subterranean stone cavern built in 1403 (rough estimate). the cave branches off into several different dimly lit “hallways” (i use quotation marks because i don’t want anyone to think it’s a normal walkway, it’s a short version of a just-dug cave tunnel with metal waste pipes and all kinds of cords and windy shit hanging right down the center so you can’t even walk upright), several which terminate with stairs that lead to nowhere. the creepiest ones just fade into darkness. there’s a light illuminating the path about every 10 steps so you’re basically wandering around in the pitch-black dark of a freaking ANCIENT Parisian cave and god only knows what you’ll find or what will find you. i mean, we all have skeletons in our closet but shit, this is Paris, we’ve all heard stories about the catacombs of stacked skulls and dead-whosie whats just lying around. and so this dry storage room is kept at the very end of the longest hallway.
i am PETRIFIED that someday i will trip and fall in this hallway. you can BARELY see the ground that you’re walking on, and it’s a very uneven surface, with several steps to climb and a few pipes to duck under. combine that fun with carrying huge cardboard boxes to and fro, you know, where you can’t even see around the carton it to know where you’re going. i am an accident waiting to happen.
14. cleaned all the surfaces and select areas of the floor as pointed out to me
and it was at this point that i was totally expecting to get the “allez! go!” all-clear, but there was more stuff to sort.
15. wrapped a rolling rack by myself
this is a lot like trying to shove an unwilling cat into a cat carrier. it’s just so much easier with an extra hand.
and i really can’t remember what else. got out of there after 6 hours of work. i was very pleased it wasn’t more.
but still bitter that i could have been in bed all day…