Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A Careful Progress.

In the last update I mentioned the details of how I had vibrantly flavored the girls' egg salad sandwiches, how they had responded in kind, and how this had failed to register on the yard duties. My inspiration to heighten the excitement of their food grew, and in recent experiments I took bolder steps. Mrs. Weems remained magisterially unaware of my subterfuge.

Today the lunch was to be mushy peas, mushed potato, and skin-on steamed haddock—a Draconian measure of protein and vegetable. Thinking as a fry cook, I whipped the peas and potato with butter and salt, and griddled them into crisp latkes. The dubious fish was on another gurney entirely. I rested it in buttermilk for an hour, battered it, and fried it up crisp. Deep-frying has a palliative effect upon white fish. I then created a vinegary brown gravy for the potatoes. The faculty, far from angering over this deviation from their planned menu, in fact seemed transported to a place and time outside of the school gates as they tucked into the golden chip-shop food. I noticed that a covey of them, seated together at the head table, actually let loose with a girlish giggle or two. To my knowledge this had not happened before.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Flavorful Sandwiches.

The girls were receptive to the new seasonings I put in the egg salad sandwiches. Once they were served I could detect a heightened level of good cheer and noise in general in the cafeteria. I felt a minor amount of tension as the girls' chatter began to rise, but upon observing the yard duties' standard blank expressions I surmised that the event had gone unnoticed by virtually everyone. Perhaps my anxiety was unnecessary. Tested by trial this one time, I will be more calm and more bold the next time, comfortable in the knowledge that the perpetually leaden mood which hangs over this place can endure my carefully meted reconnaissances.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

A position in the kitchen.

Through steady conversation and good behavior I have secured a position as a cook's assistant in the school's kitchen. I was able to convince them of my experience working in kitchens in the past. The head cook, I will not call her a chef, is Mrs. Weems. She is simply a person who knows basic technique and quantity operations, not truly a chef. Her cooking is utilitarian and reminds me of the other machines in the kitchen. She does her job just as the blender and the spigot do.

Today for lunch we prepared one hundred and fifty boneless, skinless chicken breasts, one hundred and fifty servings of white rice, peas, and soda bread. It was a joyless meal designed to inure the mind. Slowly, carefully, I began to consider the economy of flavor. While we cooked I looked at the large plastic containers of ground spices and imagined the excitement they would bring to the dining hall if used. These containers sat with dust upon them. They had apparently never been used. I kept my head down and and did the work that Mrs. Weems required of me.

Later this week there is a lunch of egg salad sandwiches. I will include onion and garlic powder in the mix of mayonnaise and chopped egg. These ingredients are invisible yet quite flavorful.