A Culinary Student in Lyon: Entry #6
It has been a while since my last entry. All I can say is what a few weeks it has been. I have worked late nearly every night and have been really exhausted. I have been on the line more and more which requires me to do more of the plating for the cold food buffet. I did get to take a quick trip to Paris for the weekend, but first the work stuff.
I have gained a huge sense of urgency working here. If I am not doing something even for 5 seconds, I feel as though I am getting lazy. If I am not prepping, working the line or plating, I am cleaning. There is always SOMETHING to clean. If I am standing still, it is because the chef has told me to because he is instructing me.
Some of the best things I get to do include making ratatoullie (sans mouse), desserts including a decent strawberry soup, and prep for the cold foods buffet. I have now sliced so much smoked salmon that I can do it in my sleep. That will be a great skill back to the states. Oh, and smoked duck too. Boy, is that delicious! I have made and plated a few terrines, canapés, salmon tartare, a couple of difference sauces. It all sounds rather simple. I think you would have to experience it to really understand how intense it is.
I have noticed that Chef has been letting me be a bit more independent in the kitchen. He knows I have experience, and he is getting more confident in my abilities. Every now and then, he will afford me the opportunity to be creative. Like the time he asked me to make a cocktail sauce.
First, he asked me if I knew how. I said, “Yes, but I am not sure if it is the way you want me to make it.” He told me to do it my way. I got pretty nervous because I was worried that he would think “my way” was répugnant. Luckily, he liked it.
The kitchen crew is a lot of fun and a lot of help. They try their best to translate for me when I get confused, and we like to make fun of each other. The fact that I am the only American makes me sort of the target. I am fine with that. I feel like I am starting to fit in which is a relief because I was not sure how I would be accepted.
Every once in a while it is good to see a familiar face. So, this weekend, I decided to make the trip to Paris to see my friend Katie. She is from Phoenix as well and is attending school here. We talked so much because I have not had the chance to speak in English for so long - kind of a strange feeling to look forward to speaking your own language.
I arrived on Friday morning and went to meet Katie at her place. We headed for a small café and then when to the Louvre. How insane is that museum! After three hours, we had not made a dent. I will have to make several trips to truly appreciate it and even then probably never take it in.
That night, I got the chance to cook for Katie, her roommate and another friend. I made a simple sautéed pork dish in a pan sauce with carrots and green beans. Their place had very limited space and utensils, but we made the best of it. I love when people are impressed with what is really a very simple dish. Then we went out for the night – fun.
Saturday, we decided to do picnic under the Eiffel Tower. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. A huge rugby match was going on that day, and it seemed as though an entire city from the south had converged on Paris and centered their activities at the Eiffel Tower. Add to that another crowd that came to see a skater break a world record, and we had total chaos. He did a free fall from the first arch of the Tower 10 meters onto a ramp below. That was awesome!
We spent most the day there, and then I got the opportunity to cook again, this time for 8 people. I did mussels in onions, garlic and some stock with white wine and a side of rice and carrots. I also sautéed some chicken in a creamy white wine pan sauce. It was a good cheap dinner. I think the whole thing cost about 7 euros. We stayed in that night and just talked.
I headed back to Lyon on Sunday and was surprised that I was anxious to get back home. I love Paris and all it has to offer, but I enjoy Lyon more because of the atmosphere, my new colleagues and friends, and my job. I have lived here now for nearly 2 months and feel that it is really the place for me.
Next time, I will chat about my trip to Geneva and add some pics.