We meet outside in the dark of 6am on a deserted Polanco street. We file up the dark stairs one by one. We keep marching in the dark as the lights eventually switch on. Silent or grumbling about sleep or lack there of. We wander past the smell of various stocks that have been simmering in prep overnight. This is the beginning of the day every day.
I am absolutely not a morning person so it’s unusual for me to feel that morning is the best part of the day – but right now it is! We’re only about 6 people until noon and it’s so wonderfully calm and spacious. We stretch out and motor through our to do items with ease! Several people have music running on phones so we’ll have the soft sound of Mexican pop coming from the pastry kitchen or Mexican rap slowly getting louder as one of the guys from downstairs comes up the spiral staircase connecting our kitchens. Often someone makes breakfast and coffee (unfiltered in a big pot which is a novel concept to me!). When desperate, we grab a cup full of fruit loops from the staff room. The sun finally rises and we plug on through our morning.
Today I smashed the cooking. A fairly decent vinaigrette. Xanthum gum and I are finally coming to terms! And I have finally nailed my tomato peeling technique doing about 50 (?) in 53 minutes. Best of all I got the seal of approval from my superiors – apparently they were fairly close to perfect in terms of texture etc. Although I’m told that 50 should take about 20 minutes, so still room for improvement.
A sweet little note – when the others (noon shift) arrive for work, they all come through the kitchen saying good morning and giving a kiss on the cheek. A very Mexican thing that I love. What a sweet way to greet your work colleagues.
In other news, I didn’t cut myself chopping once today. A fairly good day I’d say. I did manage to splash boiling water in my face (no damage done) so I guess the lesson is… win some lose some.
Having said that, I have failed miserably at tamale making thus far – those are some seriously perfectly shaped tamales and I’m struggling to grasp the technique. At least I managed to make the dough today! But this needs a lot more work. So frustrating when something seemingly so simple is so damn hard!
I feel like I can barely move my body at the end of most days and I hope that goes away at some point as I build strength and stamina. And I found out that two of the other girls go home and work out after work!! I feel vaguely ashamed at my utter mind shattering fatigue. Australian Harriet keeps asking me if I’m tired to which I (fairly obviously) lie – “No way am I tired”!
Marvins staff dinner was so delicious tonight with coconut rice and some kind of shrimp, coconut curry! With fried plantain cakes to boot. Columbian inspired (his home country). Yummmmy! Pudding was a kind of extremely light guava cheese cake type thing. Delicious!! I had to restrain myself from having seconds of all! If The Restaurant, were in a place with Michelin stars it would certainly have between 2 to 3 stars – so having that level of chef cook do home cooking for you is a complete and utter treat! Since you can cook whatever you want for family meal, it’s a little peak into a chef’s creative mind – what they really love, where they come from and who they want to be.
If you soak garlic in water and then pop the cloves out like zits it’s super fast to peel a whole head! Even more so if you haven’t cut through your thumb nail (owe!!)