Thursday, January 04, 2007

An excerpt from HEAT

I'm currently reading Bill Buford's Heat, and I must say that so far it's excellent. I'm about half way through and really enjoying it, especially since I've eaten at Babbo a couple times and recognize some things from the menu that Bill is learning to prepare.

Towards the end of chapter 12, on page 130 in the hardcover (the paperback is scheduled for release on September 11, 2007,) Bill writes about measurements, cookbooks and recipe testers. He talks about how a dish prepared in a restaurant doesn't always translate well to the home kitchen since many dishes in a professional kitchen are not prepared with a tablespoon of this and a teaspoon of that. Rather fingertips are used for a small pinch of this or a medium pinch of that. This was especially true at Babbo's pasta station, Bill says, where the only thing measured in any dish was the pasta.

Bill writes:
The downside of measuring by hand is what happens to the hands. At the end of an evening your fingertips are irretrievably stained with some very heady aromatics, and there's nothing you can do to eliminate them. You wash your hands. You soak them. You shower, you scrub them again. The next day, they still stink of onion, garlic, and pork fat, and, convinced that everyone around you is picking up the smell, you ram them into your pockets, maniacally rubbing your fingers against each other like an obsessive-compulsive Lady Macbeth. At night, in bed, my wife and I had some tough times when I was working the pasta station, ever since one of my hands flopped across her face and woke her with a revolting start.
I wonder if the the stainless steel trick would have helped Bill's supersaturated stinky fingers?

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