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I missed the determined sharpening of knives, the careful arranging and folding of side towels in kitty- cornered stacks, the stockpiling of favorite pans, ice, extra pots of boiling water, back-up supplies of everything. They were like Marines digging in for the siege at Khe Sanh, and I registered nothing.

I should have seen this well-practiced ritual for what it was, understood the level of performance here in Marioland, appreciated the experience, the time served together which allowed these hulking giants to dance wordlessly around each other in the cramped, heavily manned space behind the line without ever colliding or wasting a movement. They turned from cutting board to stove-top with breathtaking economy of movement, they hefted pound stockpots onto ranges, tossed legs of veal around like pullets, blanced hundreds of pounds of pasta, all the while indulgently enduring without comment my endless self-aggrandizing line of witless chatter.

I should have understood. But I didn't.

An hour later the board was filled with more dinner orders than I'd ever seen in my life. Ticket after ticket kept coming in, one on top of the other, waiters screaming, tables of ten, tables of six, four-tops, more and more of them coming, no ebb and flow, just a relentless, incoming, nerve-shattering gang-rush of orders. And the orders were all in Italian! I couldn't even understand most of the dupes, or what these waiters were screaming at me. The seasoned Mario cooks had an equally impenetrable collection of code names for each dish, making it even more difficult to make sense of it all.

There were cries of 'Ordering! Flames 3 feet high leaped out of pans, the broiler was crammed with a slowly moving train of steaks, veal chops, fish fillets, lobsters. Pasta was blanched and shocked and transferred in huge batches into steaming colanders, falling everywhere, the floor soon ankle-deep in spaghetti alia chitarra, linguine, garganelli, taglierini, fusilli.

The heat was horrific. Sweat flowed into my eyes, blinding me as I spun in place. I struggled and sweated and hurried to keep up the best I could, Tyrone slinging sizzle-platters under the broiler, and me, ostensibly helping out, getting deeper and deeper into the weeds with every order. On the rare occasions when I could look up at the board, the dupes now looked like cuneiform or Sanskrit-indecipherable. I was losing it.

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Tyrone, finally, had to help the helper. Then, grabbing a saute pan, I burned myself. I yelped out loud, dropped the pan, an order of osso bucco milanese hitting the floor, and as a small red blister raised itself on my palm, I foolishly-oh, so foolishly-asked the beleaguered Tyrone if he had some burn cream and maybe a Band-Aid.

This was quite enough for Tyrone. It went suddenly very quiet in the Mario kitchen, all eyes on the big broiler man and his hopelessly inept assistant. Orders, as if by some terrible and poetically just magic, stopped coming in for a long, horrible moment. Tyrone turned slowly to me, looked down through bloodshot eyes, the sweat dripping off his nose, and said, 'Whachoo want, white boy? Burn cream? A Band-Aid? Jhen he raised his own enormous paims to me, brought them up reai ciose so i couid see them properiy: the hideous consteiiation of water-fiiied biisters, angry red weits from griii marks, the oid scars, the raw fiesh where steam or hot fat had made the skin simpiy roii off.

They iooked iike the ciaws of some monstrous science-fiction crustacean, knobby and caiioused under wounds oid and new. He never fiinched. The other cooks cheered, hooted and roared at my utter humiiiation. Orders began to come in again and everyone went back to work, giggiing occasionaiiy. They ended up kicking me back down to prep, one step above dishwasher on the food chain.

My torment, my disgrace was compiete. After a few days of suiking and seif-pity, i siowiy, and with growing determination, began to formuiate a pian, a way to get back at my tormentors, i wouid go to schooi, at the Cuiinary institute of America-they were the best in the country and certainiy none of these P-town guys had been there, i wouid apprentice in France, i wouid endure anything: evii drunk chefs, crackpot owners, iow pay, terribie working conditions; i wouid iet sadistic, bucket-headed French sous-chefs work me iike a Sherpa. My Vassar friends-those who remained on speaking terms with me after two years of truiy disgusting behavior on my part- thought i was out of my mind, but then they thought that anyway, i'm sure that there was a coiiective sigh of reiief on Vassar's roiiing, green, weii-tended campus that i wouid no ionger be around to cadge free drinks, steai drugs, make pointediy cruei remarks and generaiiy iower the ievei of discourse.

My idois of that time had been, aii too predictabiy. Hunter Thompson, Wiiiiam Burroughs, iggy Pop and Bruce Lee; i had had, for some time, a romantic if inaccurate view of myseif as some kind of hypervioient, junkie Byron. My iast semester at Vassar, i'd taken to wearing nunchakus in a strap-on hoister and carrying around a samurai sword-that shouid teii you aii you need to know.

The most romantic thing i had bone in two years was to chop down about an acre of Vassar's iiiacs one night with my sword, so that i couid fiii my girifriend's room with the blossoms. CIA was a bit of a departure. I'd love to tell you it was tough getting in. There was a long waiting list. But I reached out to a friend of a friend who'd donated some heavy bucks to the school and owned a well-known restaurant in New York City, and about two weeks after filling out my application I was in.

I was an enrolled student at an institution where everyone wore identical white uniforms, funny paper hats and actually hadXo attend class. Like I said, it was a bit of a departure. But I was ready. CIA is located in the buildings and grounds of a former Jesuit monastery on a Hudson River clifftop, a short cab ride from Poughkeepsie. In my buttoned-up chef's coat, check pants, neckerchief and standard-issue leatherette knife roll-up, I arrived determined but full of attitude.

My knives set me apart right away. I had my by now well-worn high-carbon Sabatiers rolled in with the cheap school-supply junk: hard-to-sharpen Forschner stainless steel, peeler, parisienne scoop, paring knife and sheer. I was older than most of my fellow students, many of whom were away from home for the first time. Unlike them, I lived off campus, in Poughkeepsie with the remnants of my Vassar pals. I'd actually worked in the industry-and I'd had sex with a woman.

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These were not the cream of the crop, my fellow culinarians. It was 1 and CIA was still getting more than their share of farm boys, bed-wetters, hicks, flunk-outs from community colleges and a few misfits for whom CIA was preferable to jail or juvenile detention. Hopeless in the kitchen, happy in their off-hours to do little more than build pyramids of beer cans, they were easy marks for a hard case like myself. I nearly supported myself during my two years in Hyde Park playing seven-card stud, Texas hold-em, no-peek and acey-deucey.


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I felt no shame or guilt taking their money, selling them beat drugs or cheating at cards. They were about to enter the restaurant industry; I figured they might as well learn sooner rather than later. If the Mario crew ever got hold of some of these rubes, they'd have the fillings out of their teeth. It was very easy going for me. The first few months at CIA were spent on stuff like: 'This is the chef's knife. This is the handle. This is the blade,' as well as rote business on sanitation.

My food sanitation instructor, an embittered ex-health inspector judging from the scars on his face, the last honest man in that trade , regaled us with stories of pesticide-munching super rats, the sex lives of bacteria and the ever-present dangers of unseen filth. I took classes in food-handling, egg cookery, salads, stocks, soups, basic knifework. But after spending way too many hours deep in the bowels of Marioland, peeling spuds, making gallons of dressings, chopping vegetables and so on, I knew this stuff in my bones.

Of course, my stocks in class always tasted far better than my classmates'. No one could figure out how I coaxed such hearty flavor out of a few chicken bones, or made such wonderful fish fumet with fish racks and shrimp shells, all in the limited time available.

the dildo in the kitchen drawer a short story of jealousy and slippery fingers Manual

Had my instructors given me a pat-down before class they might have learned my secret: two glassine envelopes of Minor's chicken and lobster base inside my chef's coat, for that little extra kick. They never figured it out. The CIA of was very different from the four-year professional institution it is today. Back then, the desired end-product seemed to be future employees at a Hilton or Restaurant Associates corporate dining facility.

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A lot of time was spent on food destined for the steam table. Sauces were thickened with roux.

Escoffier's heavy, breaded, soubised, glaceed and over- sauced dinosaur dishes were the ideal. Everything, it was implied, must come with appropriate starch, protein, vegetable. Nouvelle cuisine was practically unheard of. No way. We're talking two years of cauliflower in mornay sauce, saddle of veal Orloff, lobster thermidor, institutional favorites like chicken Hawaiian, grilled ham steak with pineapple ring and old-style lumbering classics like beef Wellington. But it was fun.

Pulled sugar, pastillage work, chaud-froids, ice-carving. You don't see a lot of that in the real world, and there were some really talented, very experienced old-school Euro- geezers at CIA who passed on to their adoring students the last of a dying style. Charcuterie class was informative and this old style was well suited to learning about galantines and ballottines and socles and pates, rillettes, sausage-making and aspic work. Meat class was fun; learning the fundamentals of butchering, I found for the first time that constant proximity to meat seems to inspire black humor in humans.

I have since found that almost everybody in the meat business is funny-just as almost everyone in the fish business is not. They'd let us practice our knife work on whole legs of beef, my novice butcher class-mates and I absolutely destroying thousands of pounds of meat; we were the culinary version of the Manson Family. Fortunately, the mutilated remains of our efforts were-as was all food at ClA-simply passed along to another class, where it was braised, stewed or made into soup or grinding meat.

They had figured out this equation really well. All students were either cooking for other students, serving other students or being fed by other students-a perfect food cycle, as we devoured our mistakes and our successes alike. There were also two restaurants open to the general public, but a few fundamentals were in order before the school trusted us with inflicting our limited skills on the populace.

Vegetable Cookery was a much-feared class. The terrifying Chef Bagna was in charge, and he made the simple preparing of vegetables a rigorous program on a par with Parris Island. He was an Italian Swiss, but liked to use a German accent for effect, slipping quietly up behind students mid-task, and screaming questions at the top of his lungs. How to make pommes dauphinoise!! NeiniZere is no onions in ze potatoes dauphinoise!

But the man knew his vegetables, and he knew what pressure was.