Here's my recipe for cracked ribs. It's not one of my brainier recipes, in fact it's downright stupid, but I still think you'll find it juicy.
1. Walk straight into a rod iron latch sticking out of a gate at full speed carrying boxes. Make sure the rod goes in between two ribs cracking the upper one.
2. Fall over face flat on the cement ground.
3. Try to move your head and yell for help while all sensation leaves your left arm and a warm spreading painful feeling throughout your chest warns you that the damage is more than just a bruise.
4. While trying to yell, give up, because breathing is difficult and using your diaphragm to press air over your vocal chords is excruciatingly painful.
5. Find a passerby who speaks your language to help you get off the ground– not just stack your dropped boxes neatly while you continue to lie paralyzed.
6. Go to emergency room.
Note: Make sure to have the doctor check your lungs for punctures. Don't worry about your ribs, there's nothing they can do for you at the hospital anyway accept confirm that you do have a fracture and give you painkillers.
Oh, and one more note, be sure to have an appetizer party to cater with some very special people attending (who you'd like to impress) two days after the accident. That gives you one day to shop for the food in pain, one 15 hour day to prepare the food in pain, and one day to transport the food and serve it (in pain).
Also, make sure it's your first real catering job ever so there's no other stress involved.
And do yourself a favor. Hire your best girlfriend to come and help you cook and serve. Convince her that her disability leave from cooking should be ignored. I mean really, tennis and golf elbow in both arms? What's that compared to cracked ribs?
Tell her you'll share your Vicadin and your sympathy if she lends a helping hand.
Let's see, what else can we add to the mix. How about hot weather, lack of refrigeration space, and bags of ice nowhere to be found.
Other than those minor set backs, I'd say the party was smashing success. And I'm very fortunate that a third talented female cook came to lend a helping hand on the big day. And she was not injured, tired, or stressed. She was perky, proffessional, and a big, big help. A life saver really.
So what did we injured cooks conjure up for the party? That's really the important part. Not all the pain and suffering that went into it. Because no one wants to eat an appetizer of tears.
We made some really fantastic stuff – all bite sized. And despite our physical ailments we had a great time doing it.
The biggest hit was an appetizer that I wasn't sure would work out or not. It was a crab & mango salad tossed with an apple cilantro vinaigrette served in a little apple crisp cup. These little apple cups just dissolved in the mouth magically.
Other hits were the warm apricots stuffed with walnuts and blue cheese and wrapped with thin country ham and the steamed mussels served cold topped with cucumber, red onion, and mint relish with a splash of ponzu sauce and a tiny red hot chili pepper slice.
I wish I had taken pictures of everything, especially the beautiful fruit plate my friend made. I asked her to come up with a fruit sculpture and she pretty much laughed at me and then did it anyway. It was sleek and modern. God, I love her.
I've learned a lot about catering from this experience. First of all, it can be more challenging than cooking in a restaurant because you are responsible for everything that goes into the dish, not just one part of it, and the transportation too. Secondly, a professional kitchen makes preparing for large parties much easier than a small galley kitchen. Third, working with talented people is the key to success.
It's all about the team. Just like in theater, you can have the best musical or play at your disposal but without a talented cast to pull it off it's just a script in black and white.
The same goes for any recipe.
And, just like in theater, no matter what happens the show must go on.
(Thank you Jamie and Mattie for all your hard work and help! I hope we can all three work together again soon. And a big thank you to our client who made all this learning possible and allowed us to be creative in ways that we rarely get to do in a restaurant. It was a fantastic experience for all us. )