I’m thinking of changing the title of this blog to “My Life in a Box.” Why? It’s because I spend my most of my waking hours standing next to my Dear Partner J in a six-foot by ten-foot stainless steel box. Yes, this definitely, if nothing else, tests a marriage. Just yesterday, with the heat index hovering around 102 and no air conditioning in our box, the ingredients were ripe for us to have a few of our “moments.” It didn’t help that our paella took longer to cook than normal and our corn dog batter was falling apart (an issue with the fallback brand of baking powder we chose not because of cost but because we were exhausted and didn’t want to make one more stop at one more store.) All were lessons learned and thank goodness that our commissary kitchen has a giant walk-in cooler we can step into to cool off, literally and figuratively.
Still, as hellish as it sounds, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Words and food, it doesn’t get any better than that. Jay and I definitely have a common interest in creating and eating great food. Despite our “moments,” we’ve had a great fun with our cart. We’ve met some wonderful people. I love watching people’s faces as they read our menu of paella with Catalan-style pulled pork, lamb burgers with Valdeon blue cheese and pear mustarda, chorizo corn dogs, duck fries with chorizo duck gravy and Valdeon blue cheese, and Mama Maria’s Almond Cookies. I am most often asked what duck fries are. Most people think they are fried duck, but they are hand-cut fried potatoes with chorizo duck gravy and blue cheese. Yum!! They were reviewed favorably in Current Magazine, as were my cookies, for which I have Ji Hye of the food cart San Street to thank. She’s the one who bought the cookies to share with the reviewers, Joe and Lisa. They may well have passed them over had Ji Hye not done that.
In my former life as a columnist, it was well-written that I didn’t think of myself as all that kitchen savvy. Mostly, I have been haunted by the few pizzas I have burned, perhaps because I was distracted by kids and such, and then there was a rice episode in college, before I knew that rice had to be turned down to simmer. My apologies to my then roommate Karin, whose pot I destroyed. While I would never admit to being able to handle full-on line cooking in a full-on restaurant I have managed to hold my own in the food cart, surprisingly. I can flip a burger, down some corn dogs and fries and dish out paella like nobody’s business. Honestly, though, I love the baking, the quiet of the kitchen mid-shift as most everyone is up at their carts selling food. Perhaps baking comes naturally because I did so much of it as a kid, and there were always great memories associated with it, memories of making cookies with my mom and memories of the many pineapple upside down cakes my best friend, Kim, and I made from scratch. So, it turns out that I’ve rounded out my Dear Partner J’s menu with a little sweet touch and that works for me.
After almost two months in business, I have finally built some stamina for what is an extremely physical job and add to that carting the food back and forth from the commissary kitchen to the food cart. I did, after all, spend the last 12 years sitting in an office. I would hardly call it a cubicle job. I worked for a newspaper, so I was on the go quite a bit.
Now that I’m getting used to the job, I finally made it known that it’s time for me to get back to writing. That will be helped by the fact that I started with a new writing group and am committed to making that a priority again. So, I guess I better get to work on my books, one done and one just beginning, then it’s off to Bacon Fest in Ann Arbor.