I feel like I should start with a confession: I sort of skimmed the opening of the cooking text book. It's not that I want to be unknowledgeable about kitchen sanitation but...I'm ready to do. Not just read about doing, but create a huge mess. Or cook myself out of my mess. Either/or.
The other thing I have to confess in skimming the section on professionalism is that I haven't really thought out how I'll use all of this knowledge in the future beyond cutting back on my carryout budget. I can't really see myself standing in a kitchen all day. Maybe I'll be surprised and find that I like the act of cooking, that it's cathartic and my career can become one huge emotional roller-coaster-of-a-day where I'm pounding out my frustrations on bread dough one minute and then crying into the onions in another minute and finishing off with some hot sex in the broom closet (isn't that the sort of thing you always see in a film with a restaurant kitchen scene?) after making this totally sensual tiramisu parfait.
My friend, Arianna, keeps telling me to take each step and trust that the next step will appear. So I'm trusting that. Even though it is literally killing me to not worry about it.
So I skipped over--I mean, skimmed--the history of food preparation and the chapter on food safety and sanitation. There was a recipe for beef stroganoff, but I didn't think I should tackle it until I learned some other cooking basics--mostly because I didn't know how one goes about getting/making a demi-glace despite the fact that I threw the word into my blog's header. I also breezed through the chapters on nutrition, menus, and tools (I know, I know, I'm supposed to be learning, but I feel like I can go back and reread this information when I've already accomplished something in the kitchen. Going through these chapters is like reading about sex instead of actually doing it. Not quite as satisfying).
So, the first chapter I tackled was knife skills. I have no knife skills so there was nowhere to go but up. Seriously, the one knife I owned prior to this week has only been used to pry off tamper-resistant plastic wrap. So I bought a very nice Sandoku knife that the man at the store promised me was a must (and I am happy to say that the textbook agreed).
I started with zucchinis because the skin is very thin and easy to cut. Also, it looked like the man in the photograph in the book was cutting a zucchini. Or a cucumber. A zucchini or a cucumber. I also cut up a package of mushrooms and chiffonaded some basil leaves and chopped rondelles from a carrot. And by the end of the evening, I had a series of bowls filled with chopped up vegetables and no knowledge of how to use them. So I took a few bites of what just might be the nastiest salad in the world, threw the whole thing down the garbage disposal, and called Mr. Chow's for an order of sesame pancakes and chicken fried rice.