Archive | May, 2013

Tearing down the Block!

28 May

So here I am writing my eight blog entry, I’ve been postponing this one, feeling a little uninspired, and then I decided why not write a blog about that? If I were a journalist that would be completely unprofessional of me, I can see the headlines now: Extra Extra, This Week We’ve Run out of Ideas, There’s no News, Cancel your subscriptions. But just as I think of this, as I awake from my  terrible night sweats, having pondered my vacant mind and the need to bow to the thirsts of my vast audiences, I realize that I am a blogger and this is the internet, and there are no subscriptions, so if you don’t like what you’re reading then deal with it! But seriously please read on I don’t have that many readers as it is!

In this new found Dom territory of London I find myself without a network and consequently I have been embracing the arts. Besides work I’ve been finding time to read the classic American family epic; Grapes of Wrath, and Cinzia and I have been watching a lot of classic films that sometimes are easily overlooked…. well we’ve been squeezing them in between episodes of Downton Abbey, which in case you haven’t seen, is a British show / soap opera set in the early 1900s, or as we English like to call: Ye Olde Addictive Rubbish.

What has occurred to me though, is even the greats: the great artists, the great writers, the great directors, have all suffered great bouts of writer’s block. It is the center of our existence. No creative mind goes from one great idea to another great idea, in fact that’s what makes a great idea, it is the fact that it transcends mediocrity. If we all had great ideas all the time, then they would become the norm, and thus a great idea is now simply a normal or average idea.

I was watching an interview with a Director I really admire, and that’s the famous Quentin Tarantino, and he admitted that he was not particularly proud of Death Proof. In his mind he doesn’t consider it a bad movie by any means, but nowhere close to his greatest, but afterwards he created greats like Kill Bill and Django. To take this a step further, Batman and Robin 4, the last Batman before Nolan’s trilogy, was a horrible misstep and a colossal flop (I shouldn’t even have mentioned it). Yes we could’ve done without it, but it’s also one of the things that made Nolan’s Batman Begins so great and vindictive, it restored justice to a great franchise.

And I think that’s fine, I think everyday individuals and “Great Artists” are alike in this sense. Not every venture in everyday life will be the best choice, not every job taken will be the best, no every girl or boy we date will be “The one”, and not everything we do will be the best. The importance is that we keep moving, being, doing and creating, because when the water flow is cut off, then no ideas, good or bad will emerge.

So even if I may half slightly half assed this blog, I still put it out there. And whether it’s bad or good is beyond me, but the whole spectrum, good and bad, well that is the core of who I am.

Keep being, and if you’re not, well then be harder!

DD

PS. Here is the great interview with Quentin Tarantino and many other great directors, well worth the long watch!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAK3aUq25fo

Fries, Coke and a PHD: The normal life of a food attendant

17 May

Pat myself on the back, I’ve just completed my first week of work at a really nice United Kingdom food chain. It’s called PRET A MANGER. For my Québec readers, the lack of diacritical marks, or accents as you common folk call them, is of course done in ignorance, not to mention that all those capitals are probably giving the French language a heart attack. But hey, at least they wouldn’t have to translate their name THAT much, if they expanded to Québec, but I digress. Really it’s a chain in line with Subway or Tim Hortons with a pinch of Grocery store finesse. They make tons of sandwiches fresh every morning, you choose what you want, get served in seconds, and anything leftover, in theory, goes to the poor. I must admit, being  a stickler for details by day, and a rant artist by night, I am truly impressed by how things are run, not to mention I’m getting a new perspective and a ton of ideas for my Sandwich saga.

What has truly impressed me so far though, has not been the concept, or the food, or the general feel (although all very interesting). What has really impressed me, has been the people I work with.

Fries Coke PHD

Besides having worked at Subway restaurants, I have also worked in two other kitchens, once as a camp cook, and for several months as a ‘Nouveau’ Italian cook. I say ‘Nouveau’ because if I called it classical my Italian girlfriend would get more pissed then a francophone reading ‘Prêt à manger’ spelt without any diacritical marks. What I’ve learnt working in kitchens, is that they attract not only characters but some of the hardest working people I know.

In Montreal I worked with a Sri Lankan fellow, that not only made a mean Pizza, but did it fast, effectively, and without any assistants whatsoever. He’d crank out thirty to forty handmade pizzas in under an hour, all with what seemed like 19 different toppings, always cooking four simultaneously at any given moment in a 700˚ F wood oven, and all tasting delicious. On top of that, if anyone called in sick, he could replace them in a second, knowing the menu like the back of his hand. I was always quite impressed, but what impressed me even more (if that’s even possible) was that this was one of three jobs he had, all of which to support his young family. Oh, and did I mention he had a degree in engineering back home?

Oily face, stained visor, farm of pimples, two rows of shining metal teeth chains, squeaky voice, and a constant plumber butt on display; if you just imagined your stereotypical fast food attendant then you wouldn’t be that far off from the great imagination of the vast majority. But having worked in fast food I can tell you this is maybe 2o% of the workforce, unfortunately when you have a bad experience because of that awkward teen, that’s the memory that stays with you, that haunts your greasy fry dreams at night. But the reality is most people have found themselves in this occupation, got comfortable and good at it, and now they’re doing it for a living.

Well having worked in London now, it seems like there are thousands of these individuals. For whatever reason, no one’s given them a corporate opportunity, or their knowledge of the Native language isn’t sufficient, or they just plain love the buzz of a busy kitchen, but either way I’ve never met so many hard working, way overeducated sandwich makers. They can crank out 6 different types of sandwiches in less than 60 minutes, each involving at least 7 steps, between bread, sauce, meat, veggie, slice, pack, and put away. They clean their stations at least 8 times, measuring careful amounts of ingredients, for a total of 150 sandwiches each per hour. Think about that next time it takes you 30 min to put together a simple ham and cheese lunch. The worst part is they make it look simple, easy, and despite the madness each item looks beautiful and tastes equally delicious. Then of course I find out they’re from Poland, or Hungary, or Italy, they have an education that would make my University professor squirm with uneasiness, AND they’re doing this for minimum wage.

I, having worked in an office, sometimes only a third as much as these guys, and getting paid three times as much, have just been given a deeper appreciation for those in the service industry. It’s definitely a vocation, and the people that do it are mad, brave, and damn hard workers. So next time you’re patiently waiting in line because your Panini hasn’t reached optimal grilled status. Take a breath, smile and just be grateful. I’m not trying to make any political comments or grand statements but simply put, if the roles were switched, and you were behind the counter, well you might just have a panic attack for something as seemingly simple as making at sandwich.

Peace and happy living,

DD

A London Life

9 May

I’ve decided to take a quick break from my best bite pursuit, in that of The Sandwich Saga and decided just to update you with a bit of my life. For those of you that care J

So I’ve been in London for over a month, as some of you know and I’ve basically had to restart my life. I’ve had to find the right job to date, while courting many possible suitors. I’ve had to find a place to live and then fill it with daily materialistic comforts; can’t live without that Panini Press. And then I had to create a new set of routines of which to abide by… let’s face it, chaos attracts us like a fly to a crazy blue light, but we need routine, like those flies that keep returning to that blue light; we are, simply put, creatures of habit.

And so far it’s been great. As stated it has had its tough bits, but such an international experience and the ability to refresh your living arrangements is the dream of most, including mine, and I consider myself extremely fortunate to be in such circumstances, but let me tell you its crazy!

As everything's stolen on the Internet, I felt the need to create original art despite my lack of artistic training.

As everything’s stolen on the Internet, I felt the need to create original art piece despite my lack of artistic training.

In 2009 I went tree planting, and for $0.09 a tree I sold my soul. After days and days of 6 shifts a week, 10 hour days, no showers, sleeping in the bush, and lugging around 10 litres of water and the weight of 200 saplings in your bags every day, and planting in the hot dry sun, or mist, or rain, or wind storms, and even snow, and always having a swarm of a thousand black flies making it impossible to see your own shadow, and well any crazy detail I share can’t truly amount to the horrors I experienced; one day I even shared a moment with the now diseased Dante, as I started to describe what hell must be like. But after it all, after all that pain, that summer, and the friends I made, people I met, the mental dexterity, and not to mention the tightrope walk with insanity, it had been one of the best experiences of my life.  Not to mention I had a nice check some 56,000 trees later (Yes run, and get your calculators).

Unfortunately I can still be scared by new experiences, but I know just like my tree planting days, that sometimes the scary ones are the best. So being in this new foreign experience, I have to pinch myself every now and then, remove myself from the blur of daily living, and just soak it all in, and remember scary or not this is a chance and an opportunity, so do it!

That being said, I’ve found a couple of suitors that look like they might be willing to commit not to mention we have a lot in common (For those of you lost, please read https://dduroc.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/dating-your-job/ 😉

Basically saying I’ve had two interviews, landed a successful job making sandwiches at a cool UK chain, yes that’s right, sandwiches. It ain’t glamorous but it’s giving me a lot to blog about, and I even interviewed for something a bit more promising today as an assistant manager at a bakery, fingers crossed! So I swam and kept my head above the London rain water. And it’s been nice, and I realized my friends care, and people have been extremely supportive. I hope when you do the same, I can be right there, reading your blog and cheering you on, digitally and more importantly in spirit! Thanks for all the great feedback and support thus far!!! Get out there!

A very ‘Saucy’ DD

P.S. Not to sound vain but I believe I’ve successfully quoted or referenced all five of my older posts! Woohoo, it’s all about the little accomplishments!!!

Sandwich Saga Part III

1 May

A Sauce for all Seasons

It’s been six days since my last blog post… my longest stretch since creating ‘A Double D way of Life’. The lines of communication have become parched and my flow of ideas have dried up. I’m stranded in a desert that is my mind; good ideas come and go like an onslaught of mirages but they’re nothing but figments of my imagination. I need something tangible something refreshing… NO not water, I NEED a SAUCE!

Yes, here we are again, Sandwich Saga Part 3, we know pressed is best when it comes to the bread, but what lubricates the taste buds? What keeps us coming back for that next bite? What accents every bit of flavour, every bite of protein, every grain of bread, while not invading the palate; like a charming guy vs that stocker that seems to be overwhelmingly everywhere??? Well the truth is, when it comes to sauce, there is no universal answer; rather, a code of guidelines, passed on by the sandwich gods, that indicate a plural nature to the meaning of perfection; yes there are more than one right answer when it comes to the Quest of Best in Sauce.

Back in 2004 till 2006 I worked for a stint at a small Sandwich place, in case you’ve heard of it, it was Subway restaurants. Upon my first shift I needed to memorise all 14 different meat combinations, plus a variety of breads, cheeses, and legumes; all simple I say. What dumbfounded me was the array of possible sauces that all seemed to work with their sandwich counterpart, like a match made in heaven. Subway easily had northward of 12 sauces, and this gave me an understanding and huge appreciation for the art. At the end of my apprenticeship, I had mastered the art of at least the Subway sauces and I had crafted a vegetarian sub that due to its reliance on sauce had no indication that a principle protein was missing; it tasted fantastic despite not all the family being home.

So here are some basics that I can pass on to you. My five finger rules to success but remember sauce can only amount to a guideline and not a way of life; that, you must discover on your own taste time.

  1. With Soft subtle meats, such as poultry, soft subtle sauces work best. Don’t kill a good thing, you want to taste a nice delicate smoked turkey, so use sauces like mayonnaise, a light ranch or a very small amount of pesto / mayo, don’t kill the flavour.
  2. With stronger cured / saltier meats, a more robust flavour can be used, more specifically something with a bit of acid tang. NO not sulphuric acid, I’m talking neutral PH levels. Something like mustard or a beautiful honey Dijon goes a great way with ham, or mortadella, or salami. In fact it’s almost necessary to cut into that saltiness with an acidic sauce.
  3. Play it down when celebrities are in the town… don’t overwhelm the party. When in Italy, they taught me to let a beautiful meat talk for itself. If you’re using a perfectly aged Prosciutto Crudo (it takes one year to age this meat) don’t cram it with too much sauce power. A subtle mustard, or mayo will do. If Brad Pitt comes to your house do you think he wants all the paparazzi and every other fan and star in there too? NO! Keep it simple or a fight will break out!
  4. Veggies crave dressing. If you have a significant amount of lettuce in the house, well break out some oil and vinegar and get this fiesta going. Olive oil and a nice red wine vinegar is a perfect subtle accent to any sandwich, remember don’t overdo it, especially when meat is king!
  5. Lastly, Crazy times call for crazy sauces. Because these are only guidelines, remember to mix it up. My top three favourite sidekick sauces or my entourage is: hot sauce, BBQ sauce, and a nice hummus, believe it or not. The point is, a party isn’t a party without one or two of those wild friends that just seem to make things happen, don’t be afraid to mix it up and try for yourself.

Thus concludes my five finger sauce guideline, always remember that you are the cook and you hold the bottle. A classic sandwich with meat and bread is great, but a nice sauce can compliment every taste flowing through those bites. To sum up, Sauce is to a sandwich what clothes are to a man. The nicer you dress the more you look and act the part, besides everyone can agree the man unclothed has never been the prettiest picture.

Sauce on!

DD