Monday, April 27, 2015

No Preservatives

One day balloon animals, the next waitressing. I learned service skills waiting tables at a country club while I was in college. I also prep cooked, wrapping scallops in bacon, cooking chili and setting up salads. Frying wings and homemade chicken breast tenders in succulent and sauces. What we made, we made. Nothing prefabricated, nothing oozing corn syrup and msg. Preservatives? The look of disdain would have driven them out beyond our manicured golf course and swimming pool.

In Arizona, time between the now and my next show and the chance to work at a Mexican restaurant owned by friends needing a full crew of competent staff. A place that had sought that goal, working in that direction, all season through the flurry of snowbirds and orders for tacos, margaritas, fajitas, and taquitos. I started by waitressing, paced like the busy season was on- except the snowbirds had already spread their proverbial wings and travelled back to northern climes before the heat of the desert summer hits full force.

I did a little prepping and found myself back at the grill. In two weeks I've learned to properly fold burritos, taquitos, chimichangas, enchiladas. I've learned to prepare shells, and to cut, dice, shred everything from meats and cheeses to vegetables for an array of sauces and dishes. We prepare and cook everything from the chips and salsa, the beans and rice, to the hamburgers. Nothing preprepared, everything taking time and specific techniques to create varying flavors and textures.

I've always enjoyed Mexican dishes but a whole deeper world has been revealed. The sauces are a world of their own. From enchilada sauce to Verde sauce, Spanish sauce to Colorado the depth of taste and the impact they have when added to different dishes is incredible. If you've always stuck with quesadillas, fajitas and burritos try the marinated meats or add a side of different sauces! It changes everything.

Today we made chili rellenos. It was a process with many steps that made me appreciate eating them so much more.

Life is a process, its like making an excellent sauce. You might start with dried shrunken peppers and water, add a little spice from childhood experience. On the stove heat softens peppers while in life time and socialization softens our rough edges. We blend everything together into something stronger, something whole that is added then into the larger recipes like our social circles. We impact and bring our own unique influence to situations. Some people are intense, you can add them and appreciate them in very small doses while others are crucial in almost every part of life: say significant others, close family and best friends. You have to work to maintain supplies, quality, and quantity. You have to tend your tools, your environment, you have to know and choose positive ingredients.

I appreciate the lessons I learned, the amazing flavors I am honored to create with such good friends as Sylvia, Randy, Jacque and Karen at Tres Banderas in Apache Junction. It's a great crew working and striving, enjoying work in today's with a personal touch- such a wonderful group is priceless to work with.

Soon I head north for the summer, with plans to return and cook here in the fall when the snowbirds return. It is nice to anticipate working with everyone again through my winter. Hard to leave such a great team, but maybe you can stop by on your way through and say hello for me if you do?