Saturday, 20 September 2014

the writer, the chef and the big, big joke





“Don't touch my dick, don't touch my knife.” 
Anthony Bourdain, "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly"


Jams is rocking the pass with his youth, his ninja blueroll headband and his effort to focus and concentrate on what he is doing.
It is not easy, especially when someone is distracting you.

"You can't say that, Danny," I said to Mr Cheers.
"Why not?" he replied.
"Because it's my wife," I said.
Danny turned and grinned at me, "We can say what we want, can't we? We're in here."
I looked around me and took it all in. The fans running noisily, the stove burning, the grill, the lights, the pans, the smell - the two big knives we each held.
I wiped my knife and grinned back at him, "Yeah. We can say what we want in here with these big knives and all this fire Danny."

I broke into Bon Jovi and it only took a verse before I started realizing what a parody of myself I'd actually become, what a joke I'd made of myself. We weren't in service and so my concentration lulled during prep time... ...all my life I had taken some interest in literature, philosophy and the concept of free speech, yet here I was singing "I'm a cowboy..."...


Not quoting Thoreau, Camus, Sartre, Joyce, Eliot on the banks of the Dordogne - but singing, "I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride..." in a Kitchen in Parkgate on the Wirral.
But then slap, bang goes reality and the cheque comes on... two -- one -- one -- one -- side of -- two  -- three -- one -- with starters... aaaand.... focus...
No I might not be quoting Thoreau, I might not be extolling the virtues of Plato, but I was equally and as intensely distracted. To boot, the only place you can really say what you want to is in the kitchen, with all those big knives and all that fire. Yes someone really must trust you to put you in charge of all that dangerous stuff.

And that might cover my interest in freedom of speech. I can say what I want in the kitchen because I'm the one holding the big knife.
As for philosophy, the perpetual and inexplicable cycle of service, the never-ending need for the human to consume and man's ultimate desire to create, begin to draw the picture of the aburd and horrific beauty that we all live. A pattern to study for one's own good. All the philosophy that one might need.
As for literature, it may ultimately be a mimetic substitute for real life experience and the vicarious living of emotion through another's perception - and therefore why not experience that life first hand.

When I attended the University of Liverpool I was banned from the English Society for writing a poem about them: The English Society
Yet no-one ever banned me from a kitchen for saying far, far worse..

The writer, the chef and the big, big joke...
...freedom of speech...
As a writer, I am compelling.
As a chef, I am adequate.
But a joke? A big, big joke?
As a big, big joke, I excell.
I am most certainly to be laughed at and neither pride nor vanity shall come in the way of that.
...I am drinking a cold, bold, black cherry Bulmers...

Reviews and link to the book "Chef and I: Lyrical Salads and Literary Vandalism" by Craig Guthrie


“[When I die], I will decidedly not be regretting missed opportunities for a good time. My regrets will be more along the lines of a sad list of people hurt, people let down, assets wasted and advantages squandered.” 
― Anthony Bourdain, "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly"



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