Friday, January 13, 2006

The Back Burner

You know you got to help me out
Oh don't you put me on the back burner
You're gonna bring yourself down

The Killers

In my chef days, I often worked the saute station in the restaurants that employed me - arguably the most difficult and busiest station in the kitchen. I would spend my evenings in command of the 12-burner stove that was the central core of the kitchen. On a busy Saturday night I could easily have 30-40 saute pans going at once - juggling from the hot front burners to the low burning back burners, to the prep tables, the waitress station, the tops of refrigerators, even in the walk-ins - anywhere was fair game to set them down until they were ready to be called up to the front burner and to be heated up for service.

I would keep a running tab in my head: shrimp scampi on the back burner....veal sorrento on the prep table with the chicken marsala ...rigatoni vodka and shrimp primavera in the walk-in....give the lobster fra diablo on the front burner a flip... and so on. I would imagine the meals waiting patiently for me to bring them back up to the front burner where the real heat was. The initial cooking process had only fanned their flames of desire - it was the foreplay of the romance. They hated being relegated to the sidelines, forced to wait while the diners finished their appetizers and chit chat. They wanted to be back up on the front burners where the action was - where the real lovemaking happened. There was more room up there, more heat, more fire, more adoration from the chef who lavished attention on them and showed them off to the world. The front burner was the place to be.

Sometimes I would lose a pan in the shuffle. So many pans, what's a girl to do? Start another one quick. Throw in the rigatoni, the tomatoes, the vodka. Get the new dish out there! It doesn't matter which one it is! As long as it looks and tastes the same, nobody will know. Later I would find the cold pan in the walk-in, picked clean and obviously enjoyed by the waitstaff. It would glare at me mockingly. Come on now, you put me on ice. You ignored replaced forgot me. Did you really I'd still be here waiting for you?

I've come to realize something over the years. When it comes to love, I am not a back burner girl. While I'm not one to seek the center of attention, I am also not one who can stand to be relegated to the sidelines. Many of the guys I've been involved with are extremely attractive and highly desirable. I never did anything overt to get their attention, but I certainly reveled in it when I got it. When it would seem that I was losing that coveted front burner space, I would retreat on my own to the back burner. Simmering, waiting, hoping not to burn back there before they realized that they were about to lose me completely. Sometimes they would realize in time and all would be well. I was the lobster fra diablo again, and would slide happily back into my front burner space where I belonged. But often times they would succumb to the new attention, and I would be replaced with a new dish. It was these times I would retreat to the walk-in to cool down, unable to bear the idea of competing for the attention of the one I loved. On more than one occasion, after they had tired of their latest dish, they would find me again and ask for another chance. After all that time chilling out in the walk-in, my response would be - not surprisingly - cold.

Come on now, you put me on ice. You ignored replaced forgot me.

Did you really think I'd still be here waiting for you?


Anonymous said...

Brooke, I'm sure you're more lucious than any lobster!

(I beat Egan here... whoopee! Oh wait, it's Friday night... pathetic.)

MoDigli said...

You're too tasty for ANYBODY's backburner, baby! If somebody puts you on ice, then they better know that another (smarter) boy is gonna come along and eat up your tasty treats! heheeee...... :)

na-na nana boo-boo to whoever tries to come back expecting you to still be waiting.

'Thought & Humor' said...

There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity
under heaven. A time to be
born and a time to die. A
time to plant and a time to
harvest. A time to kill and
a time to heal. A time to
tear down and a time to
rebuild. A time to cry and
a time to laugh. A time to
grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones
and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a
time to turn away. A time to
search and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to
throw away. A time to tear
and a time to mend. A time
to be quiet and a time to
speak up. A time to love
and a time to hate. A time
for war and a time for peace.

May this be
your time to laugh,
embrace & receive
personal peace,
Dr. Howdy

Bill the Apostle said...

Either you or the real me is going to Hell

Spirit Of Owl said...

Jees. Pedastals and expectations, demands and disappointments.... You were never wrong, Brooke. It's just, it's amazing that things are ever right.

Hold up, though, Brooke, your dream awaits.

Tumbleweed said...

That was awesome! I totally idealize you. You are a brilliant woman who has had the chance to conquer 2 upstanding careers. Very impressive!!

Brookelina said...

TRM - luscious. I love that word!

MoMo - you rock. What would I do without your words of encouragement?

Dr. Howdy - thank you.

Owl - if I find an owl like you, I'll be a lucky chick indeed.

Weed - thank you. Not only are you a sweetie, but you have absolutely fabulous teeth!

Nick said...

There's a cooking metaphor in there somewhere.

J to the fucking C said...

Damn baby, I thought you were coming over? I feel like you're putting ME on the back burner and shit.

Brookelina said...

Nick - did you catch it? I know it was subtle.

Jesus - I just came by but you were busy. I can't compete with your flock.

Flounder said...

Sometimes, that back burner is exactly where you need to be while the cook is getting other things straightened out. Just don't be left there too long.

BTW - Did you go to culinary school at the University of Mays Landing? Just curious.

miss kendra said...

you make me hungry.

and pensive.

here's to being on the front burner.

Dave said...

I'm microwave popcorn...

Bill said...

Damn these metaphors ... They always bugger me up.

My metaphor would have to be writing since that's the only thing I really know half-assed well. So if I may ...

If you're writing a story, you really need a an opening that grabs attention. However, the opening is rarely what the story's about. That's in the background, the details, and takes time to emerge.

If the story is about the opening, it will be a VERY short story.

And I just wanted to mention ... tomorrow your Redskins engage the Seahawks. Being in the part of the world I am where the closest thing to an NFL team is south of the border and to the left (meaning Seattle), I hope they kick your damn bum!

Ha! Take that!

FindingHeart said...

Brooke, Nice post. Sometimes, other people's writing is just entertaining, and others times it's a chance to be introspective. I originally had to teach the wife how to cook mac n cheese without a measuring cup. Ha! Now, she's a 2 pot'r with my pot not only not on a burner, but in a special place down the hall in the pantry. Thanks for sharing.

Oh, I once had pasta cooked in cinnomen and it was great! Any other ideas on how to bring new life to regular o'le pasta in a pot? (Figured I'd learn something today. :)

jiggs said...

What confused me about this metaphor, is that it seems to imply that the men you date also date many other women and they switch them around on the different burners. Are you part of a harem, by any chance? Because if you are, that would be sweet.

Brookelina said...

Flounder - I agree completely. And yes, I did go there! Looooong ago.

Miss K - here's to it.

Dave - stovetop is still best. I must be the only person who still makes it that way.

Bill - I like that. Maybe that's been my problem, believing too long in the opening. Oh, and I hate the Redskins. Hate them!

FH - maybe another time I'll give some cooking tips. Just remember - al dente.

Jiggs - I tend to become part of a harem without my knowledge....I really have to work on that...

Übermilf said...

I think the King of Cake is single. And he doesn't use the burners, only the oven!

Otherwise, you could choose someone based not on presentation, but on the high quality ingredients that went into the dish.

Brookelina said...

I don't think the King of Cake is quite my....type. But he is charming nonetheless. I'll keep looking!

Anonymous said...

Bill the Apostle seems to have taken offense with me... I may be going to hell, Bill, but it won't be for telling Brooke she's lucious!

Ching Chong Chong said...

The Prince of Cake is single as well. I'm the heir to throne. Young and strapping. Rich too.

jamwall said...

the prince of cake like microwaves everything from what i hear..

Brookelina said...

TRM - Bill says the same thing to all the girls. He's a dumbass.

Prince - I'm in!!

Jam - that cowbell makes me hot.

yournamehere said...

my ingredients are top notch, but the presentation is strictly cafeteria. Damn.

Neil said...

Hey, that post was pure poetry. You can sautee me anytime.

Flounder said...

In case you missed it, teh school is now called Atlantic Cape Community College, adding the extra "C" to the initials, now ACCC. I always think of Atlantic City Country Club when I see those initials, but maybe that is just me.

Tumbleweed said...

Thanks Brooke, Crest White strips are the shit!

Bill said...

Bill the apostle not to be confused with Bill the apostate who knows when a lame joke is worn out.

ChickyBabe said...

Great post, Brooke. I love the analogy. Sometimes we need to be on the backburner or we place other on the backburner while we sort things out. May it be hot and sizzling from this point forward!

Brookelina said...

Todd - you are top notch all the way. Don't let anyone tell you different.

Neil - you always know just what to say.

Flounder - I did know that. It just doesn't sound right with the extra C. But it was a great place to go to culinary school.

Weed - freaky! I've got them on as I type this!! So very attractive. They always make me drool a bit.

Bill - which one of you knows this?

Chicky - I'm going to try to remember that - but even if it's for the right reasons - I hate the backburner!

im here somewhere said...

are you kidding me?

why has nobody asked you if you were eaten by any tasty waitstaff while he was ignoring you?

you'd think that im not the ONLY sicko here!

well, i would have eaten you if i found you laying there brooke. but only if it was on a sunday, cause thats our "gay" day

Egan said...

I feel you on this post. It probably won't come as a surprise, but I am a front burner kind of guy. Although the homemade marinara in our restaurant simmered on the back burners and was easily my favorite. I guess I'm trying to say that I route for the underdog too.

Jill said...

Because I'm painfully self-centered this week (but I think you knew that already) I know there is a lesson in here for me somewhere. Unfortunately, I think I'm the chef who's lost track of a pan. So I'm going to go drown my sorrow in some diet hot cocoa. Until the pan turns up and makes me feel really, really guilty. Oh wait, I think I already do.

Menar Piggs said...

I am in the "back burner" phase of a relationship and I hate it. I've been very quick to blame myself for picking such piggish men, but after reading "Why Men Love Bitches" (Sherry Argov) apparently every man will behave like a pig...if I am too nice! It's a good read, amusing too.