Finally I could go back to my kitchen. I started to walk enthusiastically thinking about what kind of innovative dish I would create this evening. But all my plans for a new dish were crushed when I arrived at the Femme Fatale.
The place was packed with over 70 people that had arrived all at once. Apparently a bus of tourists had heard that we served a traditional toast cannibal and had insisted on coming here for dinner.
“Oh Claire, thank goodness you are here, my mom said. I know I should not ask this from you, but can you help Frank out in the kitchen? They all want a traditional toast cannibale.”
Normally toast cannibale is a pretty simple dish but when made traditionally the beef is minced by hand. That is not a problem when you have to make one or two between all the other different orders, but when you have 70 customers all asking for the same dish it can become quite the workload for the kitchen and lately we had no other kitchen staff then Frank. It is hard to find people that want to work in a Brasserie because it is hard work, pays poorly and the hours are bad.
I hurried and put on my apron and a hair cap and went into the cold part of the kitchen. I shouted to Frank: "I will mince the meat, you prepare the platters."
I took out a few large pieces of beef and sharpened 2 of my meat knives. This would be excellent for stress relief.
I started mincing the meat at a regular tempo while I started thinking about the events of the last few days. My eyes and movement became more and more intense. My blades were moving ultra precise at a super fast speed. Any faster and the beef would probably be grilled by the friction temperature.
“That damn woman!” I thought. “She played me like a fiddle! AGAIN! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I want my life back! The life where I am in control!”
“Claire! Claire! CLAIRE!”
Frank, knowing from experience that I did not like to get disturbed when I was in this elevated blissful state of cutting meat, was shouting my name from a distance which called me out of my trance.
“What!?” I shouted, staring him down. I really did not like being stopped once I got going with hacking and slashing “Is something wrong?”
“You can stop now. You already minced meat for over 100 portions. You were going at it quite furiously.” He said a bit worried.
“I stopped for a second and looked around me and saw my reflection in a mirror next to the door. I looked like the bad guy in a slasher movie with a blood soaked apron.
“I'm sorry” I said, going back to my friendly girly outside world state.” I got a little distracted, I will prepare hamburgers from the excess meat. That way my work and the beef are not wasted.”
“Don't worry Claire,” Frank said, “You are always a life saver and it always is quite the show to see someone with knife skills like yours. I don't think I have ever seen someone that can match you.”
I always admired those Asian chefs that show off their knife work on YouTube and I practiced for years to be able to copy them. Nowadays I could easily copy most things if I saw them just once. But there was still room for improvement so I kept my practice up.
“It's just that I sometimes get a bit worried when you get too intense.”
“Well a lot happened the past few days and I needed some stress relief,” I said while smiling. I saw a drop of blood running down my face in the mirror. I was lucky the customers could not see me inside the kitchen.
“Well I guess that is fair.” Frank said, trying to be considerate he added “You can go wash yourself, I can finish up.”
“No, it's fine.” I said, there was nothing as frustrating as starting a job and not getting to finish it. I'll go when I've finished the burgers and have cleaned everything up.
You are only done cooking when the mise-en-place is done. That means everything has to be in place to start cooking again. Otherwise all the work you have done will be a burden on the next person needing your cooking station. A lot of pro chefs consider the mise-en-place the most important step of running a successful professional kitchen and I agreed with them. You should always be able to start cooking immediately the second you enter the kitchen.
After that I left by the backdoor in the kitchen that made way directly to our apartment. I took a shower to get rid of the blood and then I ran a bath and soaked myself in the nice hot water. Since it was late already, I read another yuri novel in the bathtub and tried imagining what would happen if the top-bottom roles were to be reversed. It would indeed lead to impossible relationships, but at the same time other matches with side characters became possible. In other words, it changed everything. I understood that defining the ideal top and bottom would be essential if we were to help people blossom into their ideal yuri form. I got a bit excited. Maybe there is something more deeper and profound here then you would suspect at first glance.
Argh what was I doing taking this all so seriously. It was getting to me and it was getting to me that it was getting to me.
I was frustrated again, the bath was not helping. I went to the apartment kitchen and started making macarons. The precise work of making sweets had a more soothing effect on me like meditation would do for others. Everything was better if there was nothing else around but ingredients and two hands preparing them. The rest of the world is not needed.
An hour later I finished them up, creating 4 kinds using different fillings: Vanilla, raspberry, pistachio and mocha.
I put a batch aside to hand out in school tomorrow and the rest went down to the brasserie to be served along when people ordered coffee or tea.
Mom gave me a hug and thanked me for my hard work. “No worries, you know I enjoy cooking,” I said.
“I don't know what we would have done without you, if we hadn't been able to manage that tour bus the wave of bad reviews could have been the end of Femme Fatale. But now we even made a good connection with a tour operator and it is all thanks to you.” My mom shoved me three 50 euro bills (150 Euro= +-175$) , a fortune for a high schooler like me, and said: “Why don't you go shopping one of these days to put your mind off of things. It has been a while since you bought some new clothes and you are a pretty girl in your teens after all.”
“Thanks mom” I gave her a kiss on the cheek and accepted the money. Mom always tried to push me to spend more money on clothes and on going out. But I was conscious about my spending and usually just got a little present for my sweet little Emma or saved the money. I was smart enough to know that our family was not well off.
I went back to the apartment and got ready for bed.
Tomorrow will be better, tomorrow I would have to try to find a way to get the upper hand on that damn woman even if I had to go along with that FBY stuff, that doesn't mean I should let myself be played. I should find a way to get some control over the situation but that was really hard with someone as unpredictable and troublesome as Ms Lyst.
Toast Cannibale is a snack that you can eat at most traditional
Brasseries and taverns. It is rare to see it served traditionally
though. Most use pre-made Americain préparé or nature that you can get
at the butcher's or in a super market. The dish basically is raw minced
beef with some egg yolk, onion, pickles, capres and herbs. It is served
on a toast often accompanied with french fries. If it is served
traditionally, a steak is minced by hand and it is served on a large
wooden platter, with all the ingredients minced in small reservoirs so
that you can prepare your own ideal Americain préparé. If you do not know how, it is best to ask assistance of the staff. They should be able to help you.
Almost everyone is crazy about Americain préparé here. Except for some vegetarians, no Belgian thinks it is gross to eat raw beef.