I eat cheese popcorn with a spoon
when I come home in the afternoon.
First I pour it in a cup
and with my spoon, I scoop it up.
The neon powder I love so much
is something I don’t like to touch.
After years of non-strategic snacking
I grew tired of the cheese attacking.
Cheese popcorn is something I love
But it leaves you with with an orange glove.
So rather than fight a sticky war
I reached into the utensil drawer.
I eat cheese popcorn with a spoon
When I come home in the afternoon.
Go ahead, laugh at my technique
because I see you there, you orange freak.
Well, hey there! Marissa here, in case you’ve forgotten. It’s been a bear of a semester, but in-between classes, the bakery, the internship and learning the reins of homeownership here are some things I’ve seen, cringed at, and enjoyed.
- A man stacking one slice of pizza on top of another and eating them double-decker
- All of the macarons coming out approximately the same size and each bottom finding a corresponding, perfectly matched, top.
- Photographs of deep-fried pimento cheese sandwiches
- A man resembling the stay-puff marshmallow man wearing sweater-vest contently snacks upon small, unidentified fried bits with a fork while commuting on the train.
- A sleeping Muppet Banana on the ground
- A dream about sour cream ice cream served with chocolate, ancho chile filo shards and sweet corn puree.
- A man, who doesn’t appear to know how to breathe through his nose, pants loudly and chews with his mouth open while shoving a sandwich down his throat.
- Writing stories about narwhals eating grilled cheese sandwiches.
- The man in the sweater vest pulls out a giant train beer. He continues to smile.
- An ice cream cone tragedy on the NYC subway.
- A big pot of split pea soup cooking on the stove at home, which is our very own house.
- A first dinner party at our very own house in our very own fabulous, blue chairs…so what we still need to order a few more chairs and half of us had to sit on an assortment of stools and desk chairs?
- A man next to me on the train demonstrates skilled pop-corn eating. Rather than dipping his hand into a near empty bag, he rips the top portion of his bag off to create a small, more user friendly vessel.
- Emergency taco snacks (because sometimes you just need a taco)
- Easter is over, candy goes on sale, and so begins the Annual Cadbury Egg Harvest.
- A rabbit disguised as a mixer.
- The man in the sweater vest still smiles, despite his disappeared fried bits and empty train beer.
As I look out the window from my computer, all I can hear are plows beeping and shovels scraping pavement. This season’s feeling particularly long and blustery in a way that causes me ask questions like, “What would happen today if didn’t get out of the shower?” or, “If I decided not to leave the house until April, could the cats and I survive on rice and beer alone?” But I turn off the faucet and drag my feet along the cold tile and show up to class.
This semester, I’m taking a class called “Approaches to the History of Women and Gender.” I decided that it would be fantastically awkward to show up to a class like that enormously pregnant, but I came up with the idea too late and didn’t plan accordingly. The chapter called “Reproduction and Refusal,” would have been so much more fun. I did, however, try on some things at Victoria’s Secret yesterday before class and stopped at a restaurant to eat some steak tartar and drink a crisp glass of wine. I’m not sure what the steak has to do with it, but it feels relevant.
I haven’t a clue where my antagonistic relationship to the course and my student-peers comes from. It probably has to do with the weather, but I’m not sure. I don’t disagree with anything we’re learning. It’s great and all. I just feel like throwing elbows.
I know it has less to do with the subject matter and more to do with the fact that I miss the productivity of the kitchen, and the antagonism that pushes everyone forward. In a room full of academics (especially Grad students) circular conversation is a popular theme, where nothing actually happens and nothing is accomplished. I asked why defining “Theory” and debating the categories of history was important. People either smiled amusingly, or wrinkled their faces up like poorly made pate-a-choux.
At culinary school they called the pastry students “Sugar Bitches,” and “Dough Hoes.” I didn’t think about it then, as we almost embraced and adopted the nicknames. After school, I know I was called worse in Spanish. Maybe my antagonism is misdirected at my fellow students, and maybe I underestimate their encounters with real-life situations involving aggressive gender dichotomies. And maybe for the first time, I’m being a Sugar Bitch.
The moment we arrived to Boston, I started feeling foolish. My ears flushed and my temples started to thump as I anticipated intruding on someone else’s kitchen. Sierra and I were traveling to our best friend’s wedding and I was bringing the cake. Armed with extra buttercream, a bouquet of offset spatulas, and even extra cake batter, I had thought of every disaster scenario – except one. I had overlooked an important detail – what I would look like when I arrived to set-up the cake at the reception site. I had brought neither whites nor slip-resistant clogs. I’d even forgotten a bandana or hat to cover my hair. Instead, I sported a scoop-neck blouse, in which any dishwasher, chef, line cook or server could ogle my cleavage. I felt the shamed presence of every female chef who had cooked, sweat and fought for an iota of respect.
I called the chef’s cell to alert him of our arrival and tugged upward on my poor choice of travel-wear. Feeling like a second rate Giada, it is no surprise that the chef was dark and handsome. After finding parking, I picked up the largest tier of the wedding cake. Resting on my tense, 90-degree forearms, the cake’s placement perfectly framed my bosom.
Of course it did.
Breast next to cake and cake next to breast, I took a reluctantly, voluptuous, breath and stepped carefully and confidently into the underbelly of this Bostonian Brasserie. While I may not have looked like a qualified pastry chef, it would take more than tall, high-heeled boots and puddle of melted ice to take this professional down.
The kitchen was a truly fantastic, city kitchen. Intensely focused cooks cut French-fries in time to the saucepans that sizzled like the percussion section of an orchestra. The precision of this kitchen only highlighted my wardrobe folly. Alas, there was no going back now. I clopped though the kitchen in my heels and began to set-up the cake. One tier after the next, I hoped that the quality of my work proved that I was more than just a nice pair of cupcakes. I shoved a side-towel into the belt-loop of my skinny jeans and ignored the judgmental stares of other two women in the kitchen. Didn’t they understand that they were witnessing an act of unyielding female sprit?
When the cake was complete, I was relatively pleased with it. Methodically, I cleaned up. I returned dirtied bowls to the dishwashers and thanked them, saluted the cooks and shook hands with the chef. He looked shorter than when I first met him, or maybe the weight of the cake had been lifted from my own shoulders. I was a true pastry professional — my baker’s rack and all.
I’m no longer planning goodie baskets and guest lists. For months, real life was put on hold as I neglected class reading, forgot about writing and turned my thoughts to dress sizes, bouquets and veils. I’m proud to say that that I only had one major conniption along the way that involved the transport of cake stands. My deepest apologies to Matt, Buffalo Wild Wings and, of course, my ever-understanding husband. Since the whole rigmarole is over, it’s been difficult to get back into the flow things. The other day I signed my new name about twenty times to regain control of my signature and delete years of automation. Reclaiming control of one’s hand is a detail I’d never considered.
During the short period of time I’ve been married, I’ve already learned that H and I will never be able to maintain a proper balance. While I don’t think this will create any long-term problems between us, I think it’s important to discuss and examine. It always starts out perfectly fine with 8 hot dogs and 8 buns, but somewhere along the road I will eat a hot dog without a bun. Before living with H, I’d never considered the fate of the forgotten bun – that manufacturers intended each hot dog to be nestled between soft, white bread. While H doesn’t seem to follow any particular order in his other consumption habits, throwing off the bun to hot dog ratio seems to upset his culinary sensibilities. While I know that relationships are about compromise, I don’t believe that I can stop my naked hot dog consumption. As bizarre (and perhaps unappetizing) as it may seem to some – sometimes I enjoy a naked hot dog. I boil it, pick it up between my thumb and index finger, wobble it around a little and eat it. Weird? Probably. Satisfying? Always. I don’t even need the ketchup.
I’m not sure where this leaves us…except that there’s always a little imbalance in life. I’m not sure what it means to be married yet, either. But, I do know I will continue eating hot dogs without buns. The other night, I took the lonely buns, speared them with butter, garlic and salt, put them under the boiler, and called it garlic bread. Maybe that’s what being married means…Turning hot dog buns into garlic bread.
My legs were feeling particularly unruly – I tugged on my skirt and crossed my legs, hoping to create a streamline look. To no avail, I sipped on a glass of wine and though, “to hell with it.” Not even my body was going to cooperate today. I took comfort in the rhythm of the restaurant and the bartenders who understood the meaning of a Saturday night rush. I’d never had to worry about dimples showing when I wore my chef whites.
I must have looked particularly wistful because a busy, latino server noticed my ennui (or perhaps my disobedient thighs) and topped up my glass with genuine smile. This was a professional. I felt conspiratorial and suddenly, hopeful.
There is something disturbingly strange, but wonderful, about restaurant people. In a single motion, a cook can make obscene gestures with a ladle and artfully debone a fish. He (or she) is a schizophrenic – pirate, poet and artisan, all in one. The front-of-house have their own two-faced charms and can be as cunning as conmen, or downright courtly (or both).
I looked around and noticed an absurd number of businessmen with martini glasses. Apparently, the manhattan was the drink of choice and I was glad I didn’t order one. Sure, I was on the customer’s side of the bar and I was off on a Thursday night, but I didn’t want to assimilate too quickly. Of course, I missed making cakes and pies and cookies, but I also disapproved of these “regular” people. The latino server returned with more wine. Could he sense my snarly thoughts? Or maybe I looked particularly thirsty? Whether he was trolling for a generous tip or my number, I’ll never know, but I appreciated his eagerness.
I left the restaurant thinking about possibilities, rather than deadlines. My restlessness had cooled down a bit and I was ready to be home. Boarding the train, I passed a herd of culinary students raving about a restaurant they’d just been to, and I wondered if they anticipated the anguish of their love affair. In the meantime, I hoped that they smelled these last days of summer and had great ambition to do delicious things. Maybe, down the road, I’d see them in some kitchen somewhere, but I was already busy thinking of stories, concocting new desserts and wondering about the next meal.
With a starched suit and slicked hair, the veteran waiter waltzed into the bakeshop inquiring if the coconut cake contained any nuts. A customer with an allergy was concerned and the waiter was performing the necessary due-diligence. At the time, I was very young and still new to the industry, but I was familiar the ingredients and let him know that there were no nuts in the product.
His brow got all twisted-up, as if I’d told him hamsters could fly.
“But coconut is a nut,” he challenged.
“Nope,” I responded as politely as possible, busy filling tart shells for an event later that night.
“But, it’s called a coco-NUT,” he insisted.
In no mood for nomenclature and baffled by this man’s insistence, I could only repeat myself and reassure him that a coconut was not, in fact, a nut. This went on for another couple minutes until the pastry chef returned. He asked her the same question, completely disregarding our previous conversation. Now, she looked at him as if he were a flying hamster.
The waiter left, still seeming confused, but returned within minutes. He’d looked coconuts up online and had come back to report his findings.
“Coconut is not a nut,” he announced with confidence. We blinked, paused and thanked him for that information, as he returned to the dining room.