Thursday, December 4, 2014

No Scrubs

My mother always taught me to clean up as I cooked, but working in a professional kitchen rapidly disabused me of that good habit, and so I usually just pile my bowls, pots and pans at the edge of the sink and keep on cooking. At our house, I'm the chief cook and so rarely am I also the bottle-washer. There are times, though, when I am finished with our meal, and I look at that hefty stack by the sink, and just grab me a sponge or a dishrag and get to washing.

Tonight was one such night. As I scrubbed, my thoughts floated up with the soap bubbles and back to my first cooking job. It was in a little cafe with a cold case. We made fresh pasta on the premises and sandwiches to order, but the primary business was filling the case and catering. The backbone of the kitchen staff was Robert-- he made the pasta and supervised the clean up and prep staff which consisted of his sister, Reesa, and his brothers Richard and Seward.

Seward was actually the oldest sibling, but he was, as we described him back then, simple, and so he did all the dishes and mopped the floors. He was a cheerful guy with a huge grin, and his signature replies were, "I sure am!" or "You do, don't ya?" The owners had affectionately dubbed him "Monsieur," and everyone appreciated his sunny personality and more than tolerated his occasional foibles.

Once I was having a conversation with another cook, and as Seward came by, he mistakenly thought we were addressing him. He stopped, confused. "I'm not talking to you, Seward," I shook my head as I corrected him.

"Why?" he asked, crestfallen. "What'd I do!?"

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