Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 18: Bread

Egad! It's been a while. Well, I have been thinking about a lot of things I'd like write about, so you're in for a treat! Well... at least a lot of rambling. I'll let you decide whether or not it's a delight to read. In an effort to organize though (and make myself feel better about having my "Day x:" count go up and not just one massively long post) I'm going to write about said thoughts in several days' posts. For starters, let's talk about Giancarlo's 2 Fridays ago...

The afternoon started like any other, I arrive, exchange the perfunctory (really, that's rather negative, I just wanted to practice my GRE words, I just mean to say ordinary/routine) hellos, pop on an apron and escape to my comfort zone of being behind the counter, in my own little world making ravioli. It's amazing how calming that task has become... a little boring, but that's a good thing! If I carried on with this infatuation to the extent I had started out with, I'd be a little concerned that I'd not see the point in going on for my masters/advance education somewhere. So there! How do you like that "the glass is half full" mentality? (Trick question, the glass is twice as large as it needs to be... yeah, I just went there. All you engineers who know that joke out there, you know I had to though. C'mon!)

So there I am, making some ravioli, then doing a crap ton of potato and carrot prep and I realize that there's a BUNCH of dough sitting in this bin. Like, you could lose a small dog/child in this garbage bin (used only for dough!!) of dough. No joke. I'm all content thinking about the meaning of my life and where I will go if I don't get into MIT for my masters (another blog post, but I'm at peace with the possibility...sorta...) when Leo, the real chef behind the scenes/co-chef with Chef*, says that he's going home. I look up a little surprised and realized that it's 2:30 (we close for lunch at 2, open for dinner at 5). Ah yes! My favorite time of the day. Normally I'll come in around 12 or so and stay until whenever there's a lull but usually about 4pm. I like it this way because generally there isn't the distraction of customers and I get to cook in a professional sized kitchen in peace with Leo, Joe, and Chef. Then about 2:30 Joe and Leo leave normally and I have like a solid hour or two of making ravioli or doing veggie prep all to myself. I'd say about 70% of the time I get some one-on-one time with Chef and it's awesome because he doesn't have to worry about entertaining his customers like he does at night. But alas, I diverge...

Where was I? Ah, right-- Leo leaving. So Leo leaves (but he always comes back ~4:15 to prep for dinner) and Chef comes out "Oh! Chiachia, you're here! Exshellent,  we'll make bread." *Enter Marcus, the business partner and super sweet, Swiss man with a funny accent* "Giaca, we need to go! Oh hi dear! How are you? Giaca, you ready?" "Oh, you know what, Chiachia? I have to go pick up some things with Marcus. I'll show you how to make the bread, but then you can make it, ok?"



Fridays are the days for making bread. I don't mean just Friday's bread, I mean ALL OF THE BREAD EVER. At least for the whole weekend and normally it's expected to last through Monday's dinner. This is the bread that people get served when they're hungrily figuring out what to order and bickering among themselves as to why they didn't come earlier to avoid the crowd and then they wouldn't be so hungry trying to figure out what to eat... Needless to say, this bread sorta is a big deal. A deal he's just dropped in my lap.

So, for the remaining 7.3 minutes attention I had of Chef I tried with all my might to kick myself in MIT mode on hyperdrive and learn how to fold, kneed, tuck, roll, and baste the bread. Oh yeah, and off the cuff as he was walking he said "Oh, and why don't you make one flavor garlic and rosemary, one onion and rosemary, and another plain with black seasame seeds on top? Grazie! Ciaooo" And he mentioned something about properly trim the rosemary so that I still had the main stems to use as shish kabob skewers for dinner later that night.

Talk about a "here ya go!" *kicked out of nest, OH PLEASE GOD, WINGS DON'T FAIL ME NOW* moment...

So I weighed, kneeded, spiced, tucked, rolled, and lathered in butter that dough like it was no body's business. The rest of the staff arrived around 4:15pm and were surprised to find that I was the only one there and that I was making the bread-- rather calmly too. In the end, I got the 4 cookie trays full of bread rolls made, buttered, wrapped, and left to rise by like 4:30. It only took me just over an hour to make the bread, not bad for a rookie, I'd say. I then hurriedly left instructions to put the bread in the over after 4:45 and I quickly dashed home to eat, change clothes, and de-flour myself, not necessarily in that order.

The biggest compliment (in case I didn't express it, Giancarlo trusting me enough to make the bread right was a huge compliment in my eyes... that or he's just another crazy Italian chef who says "eh! Here, drink some wine, be merry, worry not..." but from what I gather he can be a bit of a hardass to work for) came when I returned that night. I walked in and one of the bussers was like "I heard you made the bread? It was really good!!" :D She liked my bread?! *Puffs out chest*

I realized an important lesson in that brief moment of panic: MIT has cultivated me well. I might not know how to solve a book problem from any of my classes, but MIT saw what potential lay within me in a dormant stage and knew what was to grow from it. It is my own ability. MIT didn't really "teach" me this, but rather, in a truly Socratic way, lead me to this realization through a series of trials and tribulations, questions and seeking of knowledge, until such a glorious realization occurred. It has taken me several years and much much thinking, but I am slowly realizing all that I can accomplish. While this is just the tip of the iceburg of a much more in depth blog post, one that is surely going to come soon, I promise, this moment of "HOLY CRAP. Someone's business is depending on me paying attention and performing well. I must focus and learn exactly what he's teaching me in the next 7 minutes" that I learned I really can be a badass if I want to. I just need the right motivation.

Type more soon! Computer is about to die. :)

Much love,

*I know it's funny sounding to call Giancarlo "Chef" but seriously, "Giancarlo" is so dang long! It's 3 syllables! No seriously, try shouting that when you have three pots boiling over or you need his attention over the sound of a roaring hood vent and fire/stone pizza oven thing. It gets tiring! Chef is so much easier, plus, every time I yell "Yes Chef!" I feel like I'm living real-life K-dramas. (Bro, Casey, mom, and Aug, ya'll can feel me, I know!)

P.S. Oh, and in case you're wondering, to get a nice roll, you kneed it some, push it out/smoosh it with your fingers to a square, then fold in the sides and roll. With each roll, you tuck in the sides so the "hair" (note: Chef kept on saying "tuck so the hair has a way out" and I was like "WTF, ew, yeah, you really don't want hair in your bread" to myself. When finally I realized he meant "air" LOL) is forced out or something. You tightly tightly TIGHTLY roll and tuck each little bit and then you place the roll with the seam down. Baste in a crap ton of melted butter and sprinkle with some black seasame seed for funsies.