Photo by myself on East 10th Street and Second Avenue, in the East Village.
A typical pretty street shows stoops, trees and quaint sidewalks. There are even little iron things that cordon off the trees.
The other night, Mark and I had dinner in a small place with an open kitchen. We had front row seats to the cooks and the grill.
The head cook was reading the tickets in a sharp tone. The others bent to work, heads down, with a quiet intensity. It was a treat to watch.
The cooking shows on TV have elevated line cooking to a new level. The restaurant business has always been a macho profession, but because of Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsey, everyone now knows exactly how macho - late nights, stress, competition and the hint of danger. There's a performance aspect to the whole thing as well.
Speaking of cooking, has anyone noticed the following tendency among Top Chef contestants?
The nervous chef describes his or her dish: 'I've made a honey-glazed (whatever) with a little bit of (whatever), over a bed of (whatever). It's tossed with a little bit of (whatever), covered in a (whatever) gelee, a little bit of (whatever) and finished with a (whatever) jus. Enjoy.'
The operative phrase is not the 'whatever', nor the French terms thrown in, but 'the little bit of'. And when the nervous contestant speaks, the phrase is reduced to 'alittlebitta', over and over.
I just want to get on the show to have the chance to say, 'I cooked a whopping amount of (whatever). Enjoy.'