My brother Tarek and I were driving a few days ago when a giant bug flew in through my window. Normally, bugs don’t scare me and I’ll kill them with little hesitation, but this was some type of mutant and there was nothing for me to whack it with! It had long, skinny legs and wings like a mosquito, but the skinny-waisted, yellow and black striped body of a wasp, and was flitting back and forth between my leg and the car door. At this point, it should be noted that I was wearing a loose, flippy skirt that was above knee-length.
I let out a string of high-pitched, wiggly-tongued cartoon screams (like Homer Simpson and Phillip J. Fry) and even considered jumping out of the car (we were stopped at a light, curbside) to get away from it. The mystery bug flew into the back of the car somewhere, while I zipped and pulled up my hoodie, and wrapped the skirt tightly under my legs, yelling,
“WHAT THE F***!!? Did you see that thing?!”
To which Tarek replied, “You know what this means? All the bugs are doing it!”
If it had been a normal mosquito or wasp, I would have freaked out a bit less and maybe even smooshed it with my clutch purse, but this was sheer panic and hopefully I at least deafened the stupid thing.
The ordeal (if you can call it that) got me thinking about how people feel when in unfamiliar territory, or experiencing something new (and maybe scary). Very few things make me nervous these days, which is good, because when I get jittery, I get clumsy.
On the first day of culinary school, the chef instructors had us play a scavenger hunt for our equipment and tools. I hate scavenger hunts and remember feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, thinking that there was no way I would ever remember where to find things. It was just a matter of time and practice, which is true for many things, unless you’re a total knob or someone who actually suffers from short-term memory loss, no offence to the latter.
Something that has always fascinated me about cooks/chefs were their dance moves, that is, the ones in the kitchen. The casualness and ease of which a person glides about and manages to create something edible (and delicious) while throwing and catching spoons from one hand to the other, spinning a pan while picking it up, knowing where to find something in a drawer without looking, efficiently, speedily, having fun, and basically rocking the space they’re cooking in.
Just like real dance moves, they come with familiarity and repetition, and I remember feeling excited right before school began, waiting to see when and how our group would feel the same. I have no ambition to become a knife juggler, but remember smiling when I could pick up a whisk or spatula with one hand and catch it with the other, or flip my knife steel over in one hand to grip it by the handle.
With the new job, there are new faces, a new kitchen, new systems, a new menu, and a new learning curve. I’m working hard to adjust, never having made large quantities of food/prep ingredients before, and am surprised at how much I’m retaining. I just have to be confident that soon I’ll have the moves down, and that everything I do will speed up. The same goes for all of you at Northwest, who might still be getting used to things, and for anyone at home, who has decided to start cooking. It’ll come!
The mutant bug thing, though, still confuses me and I don’t want to get used to it, unless getting stung means getting weird bug superpowers, like Spiderman. Maybe it was a wasp riding on a mosquito? I think this is going to have to be left as one of life’s unsolved mysteries for now.