Monday, October 5, 2009

To Everything There Is A Season (ing)

Potatoes trouble me.

In this trattoria we use a lot of potatoes, and Chef has been trying to get me to turn them. A turned potato looks lovely, is delicious and can be used in a variety of ways. The trimmings from turning make excellent soup or a presentation base for something else.

But I am a turning dunce. See that knife in the nice photograph? It is called a 'Turning Knife'. It turns me purple with annoyance when MY potatoes don't look like Chef's potatoes. Also turns me a bit green, with envy. The turned potato in the photo was done by me, and took about 20 seconds. Chef does it in less than 6 seconds (and I've timed him).

Turn! Turn! Turn! I practice, just like the song says ... MY turned potatoes all resemble something that needs a visit to an auto repair shop. Chef's turned potatoes are even, proportional, presentable. He calls them his little Bottecellis. Mine ... well, judge for yourselves, and stiffle the laughter so I can't hear it, please. Be kind.

Grrrr ...

So today, since the trattoria is closed for dinner on Wednesdays, I am going to sit down with a bag of spuds and just practice. I'll turn until my wrists ache or my patience is entirely shot.

After they're turned, what we do here is give them a par-boil, then finish them in the blast-oven with a little EVO and fresh thyme on top. Goes with almost everything except breakfast cereal.

Chef's questions for today .. how high do we set our level of personal excellence? Why? Do we expect the same of others as we do of ourselves?