Good evening, friends and neighbors! Sorry this blog is a day late- I was a little tied up for the same reason there wasn’t a “Whiskey and Jellybeans” yesterday. Namely, finally celebrating Passover with my family!
I did take the opportunity to do a little writing and thinking on the subject though. So let’s start with a seriously impolitic question today.
The worlds of food and classical music don’t always intersect- beyond the artistry and passion of their respective devotees, that is. When my wife (a piano teacher) and I discuss our work with each other, one of us is usually on “home turf.” I’m a professional baker and she loves to cook, or she’s expounding on an obscure piece of music and I know a couple big names. That’s marriage for you, though- we don’t “complete” each other, but we do find ways to be complete together.
In that sense, we often discuss ideas like discipline, teaching methods, leadership (in the context of our workplaces,) and the artistic aspects of what we’ve built our lives around.
And one thing that we agree on wholeheartedly is that talent doesn’t mean a damn thing.
For the first time in a long time, the writing bug has caught me in a cocktail bar. Not a bierhaus (though I certainly have my favorites in this town), or just a neighborhood bar (plenty of those too.)
Tonight, as I write this, I am bellied-up to the downtown, underground bar of Pepe le Moko. In my bag is a brand-new horror manga, and I am a fine cocktail down (a “Mexican Firing Squad” for the record) and now nursing a small measure of bourbon.
Because this has been a week, I can afford it every now and then, and I have earned it, damn it.
If you want to build good habits, or just remind yourself that life isn’t necessarily an endless hamster-wheel till you die, rewarding yourself for good work is critical.
There’s something to be said for powering though issues, or “stiff-upper-lipping” it. One of my mantras when it comes to time management is “Freak out when you have time.” Definitely easier said than done, but being able to tolerate discomfort for a while DOES make one stronger- mentally, physically, and as a person.
That is a far cry from pretending that that discomfort and pain doesn’t exist though, or that you aren’t having trouble- OR that you can endure it forever.
Acknowledging that life can suck can help you… and pretending it doesn’t can hurt you. That’s toxic positivity… and in the kitchen, it can make a difficult life even harder.
I get to work these days before dawn. As I walk in, the first order of business is checking the oven to make sure the settings are right.
Next, the days first load of croissants- waiting patiently in the proof box since the night before. They need to be in the oven in 30 minutes.
They aren’t ready. Small and sticky still. Crap… that’s not right.
A quick look at the control panel on the box confirms my fears. They’re gonna be late.
Right- time for Plan B. The cookies have time to go in.
Wait… that doesn’t look right. Why is the oven temperature tanking? Ugh… ok. Back on track, make up the time later.
The new wholesale management system is messed up. No one to call to check numbers for retail. Dammit… ok, just fudge the numbers. Wholesale is accounted for, I can bake more for the store later if needed.
The piping tip I need is missing. Use a similar one and change technique to compensate.
Not enough sheet pans- the other stores haven’t been sending them back. Rummage around and condense. There’s gotta be stuff to layer.
Good evening, friends and neighbors. It’s been a while.
My alarm goes off by my side of the bed. It’s still dark in the room.- not even a hint of the dawn coming in about 2 hours. I know Emily has probably only been in bed a few hours (night owl that she is,) so I jerk myself conscious enough to silence the alarm quickly before it can bother her.
My phone alarm acts as a dim nightlight, so I can just barely make her out next to me. Streetlights and headlights glow indirectly through the tiny ceiling window- enough for me to grab my phone, check the weather forecast for the morning, buzz through Facebook, curse myself for doing so, and get up.
I don’t have to be into work till 9, but I insist on arriving no later than 8:45. I want time to make breakfast and clean up-
Fall, 1994. I’m eight years old, and my mother takes me grocery shopping.
We live in Margate, a small town in Southern New Jersey, about two miles down the beach from the lights and excitement of Atlantic City. It’s September, and Margate feels like a ghost town. The tourists who mob the streets all summer to enjoy the beach, or as a staging point to hit America’s Favorite Playground (as Atlantic City’s slogan still proudly proclaimed before it was “Always Turned On,” and then the even kinkiest suggestion of “Do AC.”)
It’s a locals-only town again. The beaches are empty and windy- just the way I would love them twelve years later.
Right now, I’m 8 years old and fussy, and my mom is dragging me through Casel’s.