"You don't need a silver spoon to eat good food."
-Paul Prudhomme

Thursday, April 16, 2015


From the fridge she grabs a basket of mushrooms, six giant shiitakes.  She snatches a handful of thyme and a few heads of garlic from the shelf.  Her hands full, she wraps her elbow around a huge carton of heavy cream, hugging it close to her as she leaves the fridge and kicks the door shut behind her.
She sharpens her best knife, not her favorite butcher's knife, but her chopping knife, and gives the garlic cloves a whack with the flat side.  She pulls the peels away and begins chopping, the aroma of fresh garlic making its familiar way up to her nostrils.  She scrapes the garlic from the board and into a pan with bubbling butter.  Next she moves to the thyme, stripping the leaves from the stems and giving them a chop as well.  She reaches for pasta dough, picking a freshly chilled spinach dough and running it through the press.  She tosses the strips of pappardelle into a pot of boiling water and gives it a stir to separate the noodles.  She returns to her pan of garlic, stirring that as well, the pieces beginning to brown and pop with a rich aroma.  She slices her mushrooms, delicately thin, and adds them to the garlic, letting them wilt just barely.  A splash of white wine deglazes the pan, producing a satisfying hiss and a light blue flame that lingers for a moment.  Ann gives the burner a little more gas, and the flame in the pan lights up even more, barely grazing her face with intense heat.  A generous amount of heavy cream puts out the flame, and she watches as the yellow butter, slivers of mushroom, and bits of herbs swirl together in creamy perfection.
Suddenly, without a hint of warning, the top of her head feels hot, hotter than the pan in front of her.  She throws a flaming chef hat across the room and into the sink, then reaches for her hair which, too, is in flames.  Desperately flapping a dish towel at her head she rushes towards the sink, but stubs her toe on a drain and sends herself- on fire- flailing through the air towards the tiled floor where she-

Wakes up, hyperventilating, feverish, and sweaty.  Ann reaches to her head, making sure all her hair is still there.  The sheets next to her are damp from her own sweat.  She gets out of bed and walks to her bathroom sink, bracing herself on the counter, still out of breath from her nightmare.  She decides to take a shower, leaving the water cold to reassure herself that she is no longer on fire.  

After her rude awakening, she decides to take the truck the next town over to stock up on spices and olive oil while it's still early.  She heads down her usual route, East on Main Street towards the highway entrance, when a woman steps off the sidewalk and into the middle of the street- in front of the truck.  Ann slams on the brakes, but can't stop her momentum in time.  She hits the woman who stepped into the street.  In utter shock, she pulls over and gets out...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


It'd been a week since Ann worked the kitchen.  She had no idea how to deal with her ever-too-aware son, Archie.  After six days of moping around the house, eating cheeze-its and drinking lemon LaCroix, she concluded that it was time to tell him the truth about her father's murder. She didn't know where to find him, or even what she'd say.  She figured cooking would give her some insight, like it always did.  Flooding her sinuses with rich tastes and smells usually cleared her mind, and recipes, rather than humans, were much easier to understand.

A rush of soapy steam from the freshly opened dishwasher greets her face as she opens the door to the kitchen.  Her sous chef is busy spitting off orders to her meager staff, his thick Italian accent ringing, like delicious music, in their ears.  Ann floats through her usual circle, making her way from station to station, tasting spoonfuls here and there.  She comes to a stop at the kitchen door window, peering through to see almost a full house waiting for her food.

"Hey Ann!" she hears from behind her.  "I think front of house might need your help more than we do back here tonight.  We're down a server.  Tables four through eight."

"Sure, of course.  Everything looks under control back here." She trades her chef button-down for a waitress' apron and heads through the kitchen doors.  Her three waiters on staff hustle back and forth, trying to accommodate for the tables unaccounted for, pouring wine and snatching finished plates.  Ann rushes to the unattended hostess station where two parties stand, waiting for a table.

"Right this way please," she says with a genuine and hospitable smile, grabbing menus and leading them to a set table.
"I apologize for the wait.  Someone will be along in a moment to take your drink orders."  She makes her way back to the hostess station, where her brand new, and very dirty, puppy sits on the freshly vacuumed carpet, held on the end of an improvised leash by a stranger.
"I'm looking for Ann," he says, "I have her dog."
"Oh my goodness, he must have gotten out the back once I came into work... Thank you so much." She grabs the dog and lifts him up over the counter, setting him in the nook of the station where he promptly lays down for a nap.  With a smile she moves onto the next customer waiting, reaching for three menus when-

"MOTHER WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU DOING?!" Archie bursts through the front of the restaurant, startling customers and instigating a rattle of forks crashing onto plates and wine sloshing out of glasses and onto pristine white tablecloths.
"DO THEY KNOW YOU'RE OUT?! HOW DID YOU GET OUT?!"  Ann's new puppy starts barking at the chaos; all of a sudden Ann's sweet, elegant restaurant becomes a madhouse, with tomato sauce and a parmesan garnish.  Ann looks around desperately for the man who brought in her puppy, begging him to take the dog outside so as not to disturb her customers any further.  Meanwhile Archie rushes through the sea of white tablecloths towards Ann, leaving behind a wake of astonished faces.  Ann briskly turns around and pushes her way back through the kitchen doors in an attempt to relocate the turmoil.

"Archie listen to me," she says, faced forward, making a beeline to the walk-in refrigerator.
"You don't know the full story.  I never murdered your father," she explains, slamming the refrigerator door behind the two of them.