It’s Just a Flesh Wound

February 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

“I’m a hot mess today.” That’s the first thing I said when I got in the car this morning. I’m having one of those mornings where you feel post-sick groggy, my hair wouldn’t do what I wanted it to and I’ve just discovered a hole in my shirt sleeve. As I sit here in Panera Bread with all of the sharply dressed business people I can’t help but feel like I’m just a mess in comparison. Not to mention I’m still sniffling which drives me insane and makes me feel as though I am drawing attention to my hot-mess self. To top it all off I stubbed my toe on the way out to the car this morning and it’s been throbbing since.

I. Am. A. Hot. Mess. (!!)

Since the post yesterday – reminiscing about my times at the Shelter Harbor Inn – I’ve been thinking even more about past experiences in the professional world of cooking. I’ve got many great “war stories” and a good deal of scars from my stint as a cook. I’m quite sure there are more to come too.

Have you ever stabbed your ankle bone? Well I have! Not that I’m particularly proud of any of these stories but (after the swelling and pain went away) they’re worth a chuckle now. The day I stabbed my ankle I working at Shelter Harbor Inn (which from here on out I will affectionately refer to as SHI). I was in the catering kitchen prepping some vegetables for a wedding which was a mere three hours away. It was in the summer and it was very, very warm. Sometimes for the sake of comfort I make some bad wardrobe choices. That day I wore some cut off pants that exposed my legs mid-shin down. It happened in the blink of an eye. I had the knife sitting on the cutting board and knocked it off with my arm. I watched it fall, frozen in horrified anticipation. (Side note: If you drop a knife you should jump back immediately. Obviously.) And it fell, tip first, into my ankle. I’m still not sure how in the world of physics it’s possible for it to have landed the way it did. But it stuck. In my ankle. I had to yank it out and go to the hospital to get stitches. To this day I’ve got a scar on my left ankle and a notch in the bone.

I do love a good scar story. I’ve got a few other scars from the edge of a knife but most have faded. Knife wounds seem to heal faster than burns. I’ve got two particularly painful burn stories for you.

At SHI, again, this time in the middle of an on-going wedding. It was a plated service and we were upstairs using the restaurant’s kitchen to get the food out. I was reducing a simple syrup – a combination of sugar and water – and sugar gets pretty darn hot. The problem with any kind of hot sugar is that it’s sticky. So I’m stirring away, most likely paying attention to a million other things, when it starts bubbling, pops and sticks to my wrist. Believe you me there was swearing a-plenty as I ran over to the sink to run water on it and cool it off. When something hot sticks to you it will motivate you to run! I’ve still, almost 8 years later, got the remnants of a scar on my right wrist from that one.

Another “good” scar story I’ve got was at a catering company here in North Carolina. It was actually the last catering company I’ve worked at since I moved here. Who knows – maybe the last one completely. But I digress.
I was making mashed potatoes by the boatload. I had a huge stock pot full of boiling water that I picked up to carry over to the prep sink to drain. It was way too full and the water was pretty close to the top. I should have used something to skim some water off the top but I was in a hurry (a danger in the kitchen) and grabbed it as-is. I was three fourths of the way to the kitchen when the water started to slosh. I should have been carrying it lower, too, but I had it chest-level in front of me. I watched, as if in slow motion, as the water sloshed up over the edge. I moved – but not fast enough – as the water sloshed out of the pot onto my chest. My left breast was steaming – and screaming – as the water burned through my layers. I ended up with a good second degree burn that time around and another scar.

I’ve got plenty of stories but I’ll leave you with an extension of my post yesterday – the butt dent. I was cooking at SHI in the restaurant. The catering kitchen was on the lower-level and I had to run downstairs to dry storage to get something. Someone had spilled some oil on the stairs and didn’t clean it up and (of course) I found it. Let me clarify – my foot found it and slipped out from under me. I landed on my butt – which was painful on the metal stair guard – and, step by step, on my butt, slid down the stairs. Just like in the movies. Each. Individual. Step.
All I can say is I’ve never EVER seen a bruise like that – and hope to never again – and to this day I have a   ________ straight line from the edge of that first stair etched into my arse. (The scar was more of a mental one that time.)

You would think with all of this injury there would be some kind of kitchen-avoidance happening but I still love to cook and I’d do it again in a heartbeat (maybe paying more attention the next time around). Some people view the kitchen-chef relationship as almost a masochistic one but I just like to think the outcome is worth the risk.

I’ll leave you with those wonderful visuals for now as I should be getting ready to head over to work. Until next time I hope you have a wonderful and injury-free day!           xo


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