Not born great
The thing that sometimes grinds me with blogs is that everything looks perfect. When someone posts a recipe with beautiful pictures, its not the first time they’ve made it. & if it is, everything is still composed in some way. Nice light on the strawberries, extra oil for that glisten, move that towel to curve around like it was just tossed…
What you don’t see is how things sometimes don’t turn out. You don’t see the practise. The work. Its like those drawing books that are “Draw a circle; shade it; now you’re Rembrant”
I recently got a new job-a real precious opportunity to learn more about food than I ever have before. I am so humbled by how much I don’t know, almost to the point of embarrassment, but so far I have not been put to any real test. A real test would be to make an Omelette. An Omelette that is on the menu, on my station, that I am responsible for.
On my first brunch last week, maybe since I was in training, other folks did some up when it was ordered. My chef came over as I watched & said “Soon you’ll be tested”. I coolly nodded, in an ‘of course’ kind of way. But on the inside I was shitting myself because—wait for it—
I’ve never cooked an Omelette.
Cue that episode of Kitchen Nightmares UK when Ramsey’s reaming out that guy for being a cook whose never made an Omelette. But I can’t help it—I was never around it. I barely worked breakfasts before. I don’t even remember doing it in cooking school, 7 years ago. I wasn’t even particularly interested in eating one. It was just never on my radar. However, now that I’m more serious about cooking, I see its a thing. A mark of skill, of our trade. Despite how “easy” it seems, it’s all about technique. I didn’t even know you pull the egg toward the center and let the gaps fill in. All I knew were the Omlettes I got in cheap diners as a kid, the American Half-Folded, with Kraft Singles spilling out, congealing on the surface of the lukewarm plate. I crossed my fingers for the rest of the week that I would not have an Omelette run through that chit machine at lunch. I prayed & prayed. Good luck for me, my number never came up. So on my weekend, I knew what I had to do.
My first Omelettes, left to rght, trying to make Jacques Pepin proud…or at least not have him roll his eyes.
Let me tell you: Omelettes are SUPER FUN!!! Well, for me, perfecting technique is fun. Through the near decade of learning, teaching myself how to draw, I notice it’s not that I’m a perfectionist, I just demand the most of myself. To be able to handle one’s abilities is so cool. Its this exploration, romping into the unknown, into things you know you are not quite capable of yet, but one day, you won’t even be able to recall how you weren’t because now it’s part of your very essence.
I knew that when I would get called upon for the egg, I would suck. Part of it is pride: I didn’t want to fall in front of all my judges. I would rather get a C- than an A for effort. & it’s much more relaxing to fucking suck in your own home than when it counts more & is for a real audience. This hour long egg-sploration (AAAAAH HA HA) wasn’t even blog worthy I thought. Because who wants to see shitty eggs, right? Well, fuck it. I want people to see how I couldn’t do it—then a carton later, got the gist, ending up with this:
It’s not perfect. That kind of takes, um, years. The edges are a tad clumpy & foldy, but I have the idea of no colour & that softness you need on the inside-also, the respect of letting it do it’s thing & not fucking with it too much. You just kind of help it get to it’s shape, but you need to trust the egg to be it’s glorious self, & things’ll eventually just roll together. It’s a relationship, food & your hands. Based on trust, knowledge & instinct.
I’m not afraid to suck & make mistakes, but it’s true that for my food blog I want things to look good, to showcase some of the fun things I enjoy doing & have them shine. But it’s also interesting to reveal the side of me that is inconsistant, having a difficult time, in process—a chronology of where one’s from to where one will end up being.
I might tweak under pressure of making an Omlette for an order—an hour’s worth of Omelette making does not an expert make, but at least I got a jump on myself. & unlike my drawing, it’s the process of cooking that I enjoy sharing. I like working through my imperfection, & I don’t mind letting it show because I’m too stoked about food & learning to let my novice get in the way of myself.
& now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some eggs waiting: It’s dinner time.