A tough day.
My coffee machine is broken and I forgot my tea towel at home so I was 10 minutes late for work and extremely under caffeinated. I trod up the stairs, waving an apology to the kitchen on the way up to the staff room. Cracking on with the routine – we did squeezing limes, making emulsions, peeling tomatoes, making more emulsions, searching for a Vitamix.
We got in the mierda just before lunch when we presumably realised we were behind on our pre-lunch prep and then we got in the shit again after lunch when our ‘“to do list” wasn’t seeming shrink.
Before our 12.30 briefing, I had the particularly lovely task of helping to clean giant shrimp heads (which we serve stuffed with it’s own shrimp meat tartare The stench was unreal. I guess we were cutting through the livers and it was FOUL! Occasionally we would get waft of amazing roast chicken – which was both nice and very confusing for my olfactory bits. “Yum – gross – yum – I think I might puke – yum”. My phrase of the minute became “Que feo”.Don’t worry though they heads get thoroughly cleaned and poached and look absolutely stunning on the plate, stuffed with their own meat tartare and are delicious!
I also had to make more god damn tamales today. I feel like a complete idiot in moments like these. Again – how can something so simple leave me so bloody stumped! I don’t consider myself stupid or inept in the kitchen – but these little things make me feel like bambi on ice. And it was here that my day turned.
Dara made the first batch of dough and I “helped” to put them together … I say helped but I don’t think I made 0 successfully. These went down to the kitchen before lunch. But after lunch they asked for 5 more. I was set on the task of making the dough. I was nervous that it wasn’t right but we packed them up and sent them off to downstairs for service.
After lunch they came back up telling us that they were crap and they had to be thrown away. That is MY dough had to be thrown away.
Keep in mind by the way that there are no recipes for the dough… just basically “do it kind of like this”.
I then managed to make more dough and more tamales and throw away the rest of the dough in a misunderstanding – so that when they came up to tell us they needed 2 more… we were screwed and had to start… AGAIN… from scratch.
I’m not going to lie, as I was reaheating some more chicken stock for these tamales, I definitely started to cry a bit. I was trying to pull myself together and wiped my nose when it started bleeding. I ran upstairs, trying to be fast so I could get back to work and stop the damn bleeding. I shoved some tissue up my nose (washed my hands throughly!) and then went back to carry on before someone smacked me. When I got back down I stood for about three seconds before I had a damn Niagara Falls coming out of my nose! Everyone then noticed and Frank even followed me up the stairs to check I was alright. I ran into the bathroom just managing to hold in the tears before closing the door behind me.
But I just couldn’t stop crying – even when I went back downstairs – and I NEVER cry! The weepy tears just kept coming as this feeling of being completely overwhelmed by everything just washed over me. Why can’t I make these damn tamales!? Does everyone here hate me for not being able to make them!? I’m tired and a bit homesick. I was probably weeping for 45 minutes while I picked the meat off the cola (which I just realised means oxtail). It was one of those moments where, the more I tell myself to pull it together and stop crying, the more the little sad child in inside protests and keeps cranking out the tears.
Eventually I managed to forget my sorrows and stop the damn crying.
As a little gift, I was genuinely touched when Dara said that she’d saved the tamale dough and the filling in the fridge for me to practice on while she cleaned. And I finally shaped my first successful tamales!
We cleaned up and managed to finish by 8.30pm crawling upstairs for dinner. We discovered that the dishwasher Marvin lives 2hours15 away. Wowee! And I also learned today that he aspires to be a chef which I absolutely love. Super Marvin!
Ending on a happy note – this morning I found our 50 year old cleaner (she cleans the office and communal spaces – we clean the kitchen) listens to electronika music at 6am while she cleans. I think I love her. Must learn her name.
Lessons of the day:
I can shape tamales!