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Missives from Miss Molly: Hot Kitchen, Hard Times

fresh food
mmmmm... fresh food! from this is molly at flickr.

The latest from Miss Molly's cooking adventures at Montali, a vegetarian restaurant and inn in Umbria.

Today: Molly feels the heat and has an ABC After School Special moment.

I feel like I am working at one of those places that you read about in those books they tell you to read in culinary school, (save the Michelin star).

You know which books I'm talking about... The ones where the 12-year-old apprentice works his ass off for some temperamental European chef for 10 years and then moves to America and opens up a four star restaurant. Yeah, one of those.

Except I'm not going to stay here for ten years, so what I'm getting is just a taste. Week two was especially difficult for me. Like, I thought I had adjusted after week one, but week two proved I hadn't. I wanted to leave. I didn't want to be here anymore. I was tired, I wasn't liking the food, I wasn't into my employers. I ranted and raved. I wanted to go elsewhere. I wanted to do something else. I still want to do something else, but after I finish my commitment here.

Alberto.... He stands oh-so-high on his soap box, that once I realized Eva and Jaro felt the same way about him, he became quite tolerable. He talks to me like this is my first time ever working in a restaurant kitchen. I humor him. He likes to lecture (and I stress the word LECTURE) about how Americans do not have a good palate, how great Italy is and how stressful his job is.

Okay okay okay. I get it. I can't relate why serving customers is so difficult because I've never done it before. But your life can't be too stressful when you take your Honda 600 to Perugia to buy some grass and then lay in a hammock and smoke cigarettes all day only to wake up, put on your clothes from Milano (which he never fails to tell us), have a drink or two, serve customers for no more than three hours and then sit in the patio talking about yourself and sipping on 1000-year
old-port. Disclaimer: the grass thing is pure speculation.

As for my fellow cooks, Roman took off last Friday without so much a word to the chef or boss. I guess he was hired as a server for 800 a month and when a spot opened in the kitchen he took it a week or two later. When payday came around and he only recieved 300 with the rest promised to him as soon as they hired another cook, he decided to take off.

I went with him and a few others to drive him to Perugia where he had some friends and an apartment waiting. This happened right after my temper tantrum at the end of week two and I'd wished I'd had the balls to do the same thing. Later that evening, this overwhelming feeling of guilt struck me as I, along with everyone else, returned to work and couldn't say anything to chef or boss about it. I half felt like an accomplice simply becausI i went along for the ride. (My dad says this means I have strong values, my mom says not to let this get to me.)

At the end of the evening, it hit me. I'd had the balls to stay when all I wanted to do was take my credit card and run. Like everything else in life, it is what you make of it. It's hard to remember that 100% of the time though.

To me, guilt is one of the worst things to feel, coming in a close second to abandonment, nausea and cramps. I decided not to feel that way anymore and that 3 1/2 months of my life is nothing in the grand scheme of things. If anything, I feel that it's not long enough in terms of where I want my career to go.

I just have to remember that next time life throws rocks at me.

A few mantras that have gotten me through the difficult time:

"You're a swimmer, Molly"
-PH, 2006

"Hard work and misery are the backbone of a strong, resilient character. It's still worth your attention."
-DCP, 2006

'I like you, but I don't think you should cook. You should work the front of the house."
-FC, 2004

Anyway, Eva, Jaro and I all have some great laughs on a daily basis. They are both from Slovakia but speak pretty fluent English. They say I'm harder to understand than the other American who is originally from the Midwest. The point is though, as long as you have a hearty laugh everyday, there is no way that day will be unbearable. (Awwwww! I just had a Doogie Howser moment!)


In the next Missive, we'll get the food update...

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7.01.2006

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