Carving Out of the Fridge – September 2013

Taste This | September 09 2013

When Craig told me that this month’s issue of The Stew Magazine was dedicated to ‘carving’ and he said, “Oh, and by the way, I need
your copy by Friday and today is Wednesday,” I kinda cringed. I wasn’t so much shuddering at the deadline, just the subject matter — carving. It brings back a lot of Chef-ing memories, not the least of which was my first time on the buffet line. Let me give you some
background. Carving, for a Chef, is an art. Some artists use wood or marble, but to a Chef, it’s all about the food.
We have all seen carvings used as centerpieces or decorations for buffets — neither of which, by the way, I’m any damn good at. Carving
meat is my forte. And trust me, it is not as easy as it looks. For example, meat must be cut against the grain. Cut with it and it will shred and fall apart. Cut it too thick and it’s like chewing a rubber tire. During my apprenticeship I was lucky enough to work for a very reputable, very talented, German Chef. Although he made Gordon Ramsey look like Mother Theresa, we got along pretty well.
His thick German accent brought a slight bit of humour to his regular tirades and his not-so-occasional drinking binges left his breath
more than just nasty.
So I’m standing at the end of the buffet line for my first time, carving a roast. It’s like being on stage, only one mistake and you lose a finger; I was so nervous, my hands were shaking. After about the tenth slice, I start to pull myself together. Breathe, I think to myself, relax. Just at that moment I heard the words that have been forever scarred into my memory. His breath on my neck , an inch away
from my ear, I hear, “Theeeeeeeener. Carve it theeeeeeeeener.” As he leaned even closer, I smelled the breath of someone who had been drinking for the past few hours, and in his now slurred, German accent he hisses, the saliva spraying my jugular, “I vant to be able
to read a newspaper trew it.”
Ever since, whenever I carve beef — which has turned out to be quite often— I always give a small shudder at this memory which has been seared into my brain like a steak hitting a hot cast iron frying pan. Carving birds brings up a whole different memory. Insert a picture of a father figure here, slashing away at a once noble, now defenseless, turkey resting upon your decorated Christmas table.
Chunks of white meat haphazardly mixed in with dark meat, strewn across the turkey platter in all size and manner of cut. Beautiful goldenbrown skin torn asunder and buried under the horrendous chunks of flesh. The beaming proud smile of the man with his knife, having laid waste to what should have been an enjoyable eating experience. Join me next issue for more adventures in foul roasting and carving.

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