“When The Going Gets Tough, The Weird Turn Pro”: A Look at System D.

     Good morning, friends and neighbors!
     Sorry this post is late. Due to factors not QUITE beyond my control, but enough that I was too tired to see straight last night- let alone think straight- I am writing to you down in the wee hours of a rainy Friday morning.

     This post is going to bring together a lot of different observations, but as always- even obliquely- I WILL pull it all together for you, my dear readers. To start with, the quote I picked for the title,  originally uttered by this man:

     Hunter S. Thompson. Father of gonzo journalism, sports writer, political writer and activist, founder of the “Freak Power” party,  professional weirdo, remembered for his love of recreational drugs, alcohol, gambling, and firearms- and one of the most important writers of the 20th century. If you haven’t read anything by him and you REALLY want to send your head down the rabbit hole of 60’s- 70’s America, I highly suggest it.
     The “gonzo” philosophy, illustrated by Thompson, called for a complete abandonment of any pretense toward objectivity. Thompson would report of happenings and stories from his own point of view, writing himself and his actions directly into the story and offering opinions and perceptions from his point of view. It called for experiencing things viscerally.

Again, I promise- I WILL tie all of this together, one way or another, through System D- a semi-archaic, obscure bit of kitchen jargon, resurrected through the writing of Anthony Bourdain.

To quote Wikipedia:

System D (in French, Système D) is a shorthand term that refers to a manner of responding to challenges that requires one to have the ability to think fast, to adapt, and to improvise when getting a job done. The letter D refers back to either of the French nouns débrouillardise[1] or démerde (French slang). The verbs se débrouiller and se démerder mean to make do, to manage, especially in an adverse situation.

To summarize, System D is the ability to solve problems on the fly, using whatever is on hand and no small amount of ingenuity.

To summarize the summary, it means slapping something together in the nick of time to keep things from going properly to hell.

Those of you who know me (and I say this because I’m not sure if I mentioned it in this blog or not) know that baking was not my first career. I spent a total of 10 years in medicine, 8 of them as an EMT. EMT training was pretty extensive, covering the ins and outs of saving a persons life in a variety of situations, getting them help, and making sure they didn’t get worse in the meantime.

As you no doubt guessed though, training doesn’t cover everything.  More than once my crew and I found ourselves in situations where what truly saved the day wasn’t training, mnemonics, formulas, or complicated procedures. Often it was simply being observant, being creative, and thinking on one’s feet. I recall cutting the thumb off a glove to make a waterproof bandage for a kid’s toe, and wrapping a blanket into a splint for a broken ankle.

In the kitchen, I have seen a cake weight used to crush nuts, a broomstick used for a narrow rolling pin, fishing line to cut a cheesecake without leaving residue, and clean dish scrubbers and pencil holders used to make impressions on rolling fondant. 

“When the going gets tough, the weird turn pro.”

See, I told you!

Stay interesting.
Stay weird,
and as always-

Stay Classy,