Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta cook. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta cook. Mostrar todas las entradas

miércoles, 8 de noviembre de 2017

You reap what you sow

  Its name was Cotton and he had been a member of the Northam family for at least ten years. He had been given to a young teenager named Martha, the oldest of the Northam marriage. They were a very wealthy family from the coastline region, controlling most of the fishing industry in the part of the country. They named the cat Cotton because of the color of its fur but also because the family also owned several cotton plantations on near the ocean, which they exported with ease.

 Martha had never really wanted a cat. She was not the kind of kid to like animals or anything that was alive. To be fair, she had problems at school that had resulted in her removal from the education system. She was then educated at home by private teachers who would come for at least five hours a day and try to educate her a bit. But the girl wasn’t interested, only being moved by the love of her father and his tendency to give her what she wanted whenever she wanted.

 Her mother Nancy had never agreed to that behavior but Mr. Northam, as head of the family, made all the big choices around there and she couldn’t really protest any of the decisions he made. If he wanted something done at home or not, if he wanted the children to go to school or not and even what kind of food would be served at home, it was him who decided it all, even if it didn’t really affected him. Because, you see, Mr. Northam was never around in the house, too busy with his business.

 Many, for a long while, had guessed he could be one of those men that has several mistresses all around and even other families but that was proven to be false when Nancy, on a very rare glimpse of attitude, had decided to follow her husband one day in order to se what he did with his time. It had been the most boring experience for him and had just sealed in her mind that nothing would ever change in that house because there was nothing unpredictable about the things happening all around.

 Cotton was officially Martha’s, but the cat spend much more time in the kitchen, sitting on an old wooden stool, while the cook did her chores of the day. She was a big woman, much bigger than any in the family, and she would often give the cat bits and pieces of everything she made. Everyone always seemed to be astonished at how fat he became over the years. No one knew about where he went every day and only the old cook knew and never told a soul. After all, Cotton was a bit like a companion, even a partner in crime if you will. She never felt alone when he was there.

 For Alysia, the cook, Cotton was more human than the people she made the food for. She liked the cat because he seemed to listen to what she said, even if it was ridiculous to converse with a cat. However, that all changed when Martha discovered the cat coming out of the kitchen one day, when she was about to leave the house after finally ending her high school years. Her father had agreed to pay a very expensive university far away in order for her to become a clothes designer.

 Even so, she complained to her father about the cat not being with her, as he should even if she didn’t want him around, and being with the cook instead. The children had never seen the cook’s face but they had been raised to believe that was far a reason, something to do with them being better than others although with a different wording, in order not to seem heartless and insensitive. But the truth could never be masked by pretty and false phrases that meant nothing.

 Mr. Northam’s response was pretty straightforward: Alysia was fired and replaced with another older woman, as big as she was. The cat stopped going to the kitchen because the new cook would always try to scare it off with a broom or something. So Cotton, once again, became an object for everyone in the house, as useless and uninteresting as a lamp or the rugs that were all over the place. No one cared about him afterward, being the gardener the one in charge of filling the cat’s bowel with food and water.

 Alysia leaved in a small shed was forced to leave it once she had been fired, as all of the housing in the area was exclusive for people that worked for the Northam family. She was evicted along with her few belongings and at age seventy-six she was forced to leave the region and go to a big city in order to try to find a new job, because she didn’t have enough money saved to pay for anything. Suffice to say that working for years had not made her a candidate for a pension or even health insurance.

 Cotton escaped one night and went looking for Alysia but he never found her. Not only because he arrived at the shed she used to leave with and no one was there, but because he was an already very old cat and couldn’t properly use his natural talents to find anyone. He was confused and tired, so he decided to go back to the only place where he could rest for the rest of his days. At least the small boys were now bigger and didn’t bother him and the rest of the family was too submerged in their own businesses in order to care for what a cat would do or not do.

 In the city, Alysia eventually found a job knitting for a store that made baby clothes. They required her skills to be almost out of this world and she was just too tired to do it as fast as they wanted her to be. So they also fired her from that place. She would never find a job ever again and, in a very sad turn, she died in line while trying to get into the office that was supposed to help her sue the Northams for everything that they owed her for all the years of service. It wasn’t peaceful.

 No one attended her funeral and she was cremated because there was no determined place to put her body. Some nice person dissipated her ashes in a park in the city, but that was it for her. She had raised a family, had endured after losing her husband and had made everything possible for her children to have better lives than hers. She failed and succeeded but all of that never mattered in her golden years, that time you are supposed to be at peace and with no worries.

 As for the Northam family, they didn’t have the best of lucks either. Because of very poor business decisions, a competing company was able to outgrow them and eventually they were forced to sell to them. Everything went, even the palatial house that had been their refuge for so many years. Every employee defected fast and many other were only fired with no compensation. Some of the old sheds were demolished and everything that had been a reality for so long had been turned into dust.

 As for Martha, she never returned from abroad. However, it was known by everyone that she had never paid a single semester in that fancy university, instead blowing the money in alcohol and drugs. A couple of years after her family’s bankruptcy, she was found dead because of an overdose. It was the final nail in the coffin for her family, a very big coffin with a very large amount of nails. Her parents divorced and her brothers never spoke to any of them again, separating forever.

 Cotton was a witness in all of this. However, the cat was very old and tired when it all happened. However, the gardener decided to keep him when things were being sold. After all that time, he had also developed a fondness for the furry creature.

 The cat died only a year after that, not being able to fully enjoyed proper love in a much better, although smaller, house. Some called the whole thing a curse but there are no such things. It’s more the phrase that grandmothers say: “You reap what you sow”.

martes, 30 de agosto de 2016

A single moment

   The very next day, the garden was covered with a very fine layer of snow covering everything. The most beautiful flowers and the largest plants were all covered in white, giving everything a “frozen in time” appearance. The house inhabitants had never seen snow, so when the first workers saw it that morning, they didn’t really know what to think. The low temperatures that winter were something they had never seen either so it was a very particular season for everyone.

 The first person to see the garden covered in snow was Mrs. Ross, the cook of the house. She had been living there for so many years but had never seen anything quite like that. She was so surprised that breakfast that morning was not ready on time and some people and the family had to wait or go hungry for a couple of extra hours.

As curious as everyone was for what was happening, every person coming late to work, showing up minutes later for a date or simply not coming because they had seen snow, were all excused as if it was the most normal thing. The snowfall lasted for about a week and then it disappeared. People were very disappointed when snow melted and everything they had thought was so magical was now covered in this very thick layer of mud that was nowhere near as attractive as snow. People returned to their normal lives and the winter experience was soon a thing of stories.

 The house were the garden had been covered suffered severe transformations between the first snowfall ever and the following one, which took place fifty years later. Some of the people that had seen it the first time as kids were still alive and they didn’t get tired of telling the story once and again, as if people were not living through it. It was possibly because of the excitement and because not a lot of things happened around there.

 The garden of the house was still there but the place was no longer a private place. It had been converted not so long ago into a museum after the family that had lived there for generations had decided to sell to the best bidder because every single part of their business, now related to the technology industry, was located nowadays in the city and having such a grand state in the countryside was very expensive to maintain.

 So the building had become a place where people could learn about the past but also where they could remember and experience in a very special way the two times snow had fallen in the region. There were pictures and poems and various others artistic manifestations, remembering what had happened in a variety of ways.

 There was even a picture of the cook that had been the first one to see snow. Her descendants came for the opening day of the museum and were very happy to see their relative love forever in such a fabulous space. More pictures, drawings and so on were placed all over the house, which had been decorated in a way it had never probably been decorated before. The museum had disguised the house as something it wasn’t, trying to get more and more people to come and enjoy the place.

 Soon, that wasn’t enough so they had to integrate the various areas surrounding the house, in other words the rest of the state that was still being exploited by a private company. Some parts of the land were used to grow various organic vegetables and others had fruit with the largest portion been dedicated to grapes and a small processing plant where the best grapes were chosen to be sent to another place where they were turned into a very decent wine. It wasn’t the best but it wasn’t bad either.

 The people who ran the museum decided to make it all part of the daily walks around the house. They wanted to show the visitors how farming worked in the region so they also created a small petting zoo and worked with a foreign company in order to use the grapes in the farm to make their own brand of wine. Of course, the first few bottles wouldn’t be very good but with time they could end up having one of the best products because of the experts they were hiring to ensure that everything was as good as it could be.

 People really enjoyed the new additions to the museum. Now it was a more complete experience and many visitors didn’t even care to enter the museum, the enjoyed themselves thoroughly in the fields and with the animals. Various vegetables and fruits were added to the crop selection and the wine started being sold to supermarkets in the city with a very special sticker that invited everyone to witness the creation process of the beverage.

 That proved to be a very good move and visits increased once again. The bad thing was that the museum was not being visited as much as it had been before. The situation was so bad for the house as it was that they decided to make it a free entrance if you cared to buy a pass for all the rest of the attraction in the state. That helped the snowfall story become well known once again.

 The place was renamed Snowfall Fun Park and they dedicated themselves to find new ways to attract more customers each year. After the name change, they were able to convert a small yard that had only been used for maintenance into a small food court selling various foods from around the world. The place was packed daily.

 The biggest news coming from the park was the announcement that they had bought the whole neighboring terrain, which was almost as large as the one they were operating in currently. They would use all that land to build an area for rides and overall entertainment. Every single thing would be themed around snow and winter sports. The main attraction would be a huge roller coaster named the Yeti, which had almost no relation with the region except for the fact that those fantastic creatures allegedly lived in the snow.

 The construction of that area was halted when they discovered some bones and rock alignments that seemed to be very interesting to the scientific community. As it turns out, it had been forgotten that the area had been the place for the old homes of the main house workers were located. The famous cook had lived right there and it was her bones that the machines almost crushed to dust.

 When her DNA was picked up from them, traditionalists in the region were appalled that such a beloved person would have been died in a place no one knew about and now they had discovered she had never been properly buried anywhere. Many signed a petition to have her remains be buried in the garden of the main house, as a gesture of respect to her legacy and the lives of all the other workers and farmers of the region.  After all, she had been a very humble woman, not wealthy or anything like that.

 Some even argued that the remains of the houses should not be moved and should be integrated in the project, in order to bring back the main interest why people would go to that place. The company that operated the park was at first very reluctant to make any changes because of the investors but they eventually saw a way they could win with it.

 The excavations of the remains of the houses were left alone. The design of the roller coaster was changed in order to not have any negative effects over any of the older structures in the park. Every other building stayed the same as in the original expansion plans except for an area where they would have meet and greets with actual farmers and have classes for interested visitors. That was moved to the farm area in order to surround the exaction area with a low fence and feature it as an attraction.

 Five years later, the third snowfall was registered in the region. It had been so many years since the last one that people were happy to have their museum in order to remember the story. Parties and festivals were organized and the legacy of a single moment in history kept on living on the minds and hearts of the people.

lunes, 9 de noviembre de 2015


   Just when she was about to do it, a man passing pulled her back. Natalya tripped on her feet and landed on her behind, just at the feet of her so-called savior. But she didn’t see him as his savior; he was just an old fool meddling in things that were not of his interest. She got on her feet and just then the train stopped in front of them. She gave one last look of hate to the old man, who seemed to be oblivious to it, and boarded the train. It was peak time and everyone seemed to be too close from one another but she didn’t mind. She walked to one of the windows and just stood there the rest of the trip, staring at the tunnel walls passing by. She had been so close to do what she had imagined for days, and then the man had stopped her and she didn’t even knew why.

 Her foot had not even left the ground, she hadn’t begun to walk and he had pulled her back. Did he already know what Natalya wanted to do or did he just act on instinct? She didn’t care at all. It had been so close and now that it hadn’t happened she didn’t knew if she had to be grateful or not. She felt strangely alive, even there, in such a bleak part of town. In the following stop, she got out of the train and walked to the surface with one idea on her mind. She walked pretty fast, remembering a place where she had been pretty happy some time ago. Natalya wanted some of that happiness now, as she could really use it. She didn’t have to walk a lot. The restaurant only had a few costumers and the waitress recognized her from the last time.

 Natalya sat on a table by the window and decided to have anything she wanted, never mind the price or the amount. She needed to feel better and maybe food was the way to do it. As she waited for the dishes, the woman looked at the window. But instead of looking at the exterior, she found herself in there. Her face was still young but her body was older, as if the two parts that formed her being, body and soul, had decided at one point to age differently. Her eyes were sad and her mouth had always been arched in a way that always seemed to be sad too. Thankfully, the nice waitress came back with her drink. She was seeing the reasons why she had decided to kill herself and she just wasn’t ready to do that, to confront herself right now.

 For the next hour, all that she did was eating. The restaurant served Japanese food mostly but it also had some dishes from other parts of Asia. The waitress commented that one of the cooks was from India, so he had the idea to make rice and curry as a companion to every dish. Natalya thought that was a clever idea and asked the waitress to thank him for his idea. Surprisingly, he came out of the kitchen after the waitress had disappeared and shook Natalya’s hand. She was a bit surprised but she smiled and thanked him again anyway. He left with a clear sense of pride and that was good enough to make her day a better one.

 When the waitress came with the bill, Natalya asked her to sit down. The woman, a young Japanese girl, started to speak rapidly. She thought that her client was going to demand an explanation of her bill or have some criticisms about the food or even complain about the cook. But the truth was that Natalya just wanted to speak to her. She asked her where she was from, how old she was and, at last, her name. Misako was only twenty-four years old and had been born right in the city, her parents been immigrants that left Japan because his father wanted to have a restaurant and there was too much competition in Tokyo. So they emigrated to be more successful. Before paying, Natalya asked Misako if they could have a drink before leaving and Misako said she had to ask, as she was still working.

 They waited until the restaurant was closed to talk and then Natalya found out that the young woman had a life that fascinated her. The fact that she had lived all of her life in the restaurant and knew how to make every dish in the menu was outstanding. Misako clarified that she never cooked for the restaurant but that she tried the recipes at home to check on her skills but she ate it all alone as she was too scared to tell her father that she cooked. She explained that he had an education thought for her: she had already finished law school and now wanted her to get the following degree, for which they were saving. But she had no courage to tell her parents that she didn’t wanted anything to do with law.

 They drank a couple of Asahi beers each, until they all stepped out of the restaurant. Natalya got to meet the Japanese cook, a very private man who only raised his hand to say “Bye”. She also shook hands again with the Indian one, who was still very happy to have his ideas praised. Then, she met Misako’s brother Kenzo, who worked at the cash register. He was younger than her and was visibly sleepy. She realized it was better to let them go to their home. Before doing so however, she gave Misako her number and her email, in order for them to be in contact. She told her that she would come again anyway but that it was necessary for her to guarantee that they would keep on speaking.

 As she walked home, Misako realized she had been maybe too desperate but at this point of her life she didn’t really care. And that was because she was indeed desperate for friends, attention, love and anything in between. Maybe the only way to make friends was to just improvise in a moment such as the one in the restaurant. When she got home, she got into bed thinking of her insecurities but she decided not to do a thing about them. After all, it was them that had almost pushed her over the edge, literally. She was going to make one final effort to be a happy person and Misako would be her first friend to help her do exactly that.

 As she walked up very early for the office, a place she hated more than anything, Natalya got a text from Misako telling her that she had an idea she wanted to discuss with her. Thrilled to know her new friend’s idea, she answered the text right back, on her way to the office. Sad for her, she only got the response once she had started working on the most boring papers ever. Natalya was a teacher on the department of philosophy and the truth was that she hated philosophy and all the pretentious people that populated the campus. They were so filled with hot air; she thought they could fly to Europe and back. She hated that place where everyone tried so hard to be considered smart and unique when, and she had realized this long ago, no one was really special or unique. We are all the same kind of pretenders, of fakes.

 Or maybe not… Now that she had the way of friendship so close, Natalya thought that maybe she had been wrong about people and some of them could actually be real and interesting. Misako was exactly that and she was relieved to get a call from her at lunch. The proposal involved the two of them, and whoever else that wanted to join, cooking Japanese dishes in order to learn more and surprise her parents with a feast in the future.  Natalya thought that was a great idea and proposed they do it in her house. Misako said maybe a cousin of hers would join and that she could bring any friend or family member she wanted, as learning was more fun in groups.

 Unfortunately, Natalya had no one she could ask to come to their first attempt of a class. Many women worked in faculty but they weren’t her friends and she knew it would be weird to ask them, so she didn’t. As for family, she had lost that a long time ago. The following Friday, Misako showed up with her brother, her cousin and an aunt. She had brought every ingredient and when Natalya tried to pay her for the class, she said she had done enough by providing them with a place to practice. In just an hour, they were already rolling sushi and frying tempura. Natalya was a bit clumsy but they all had fun and joked around. They put on music and even danced as they put all the finished dishes together.

 When it was time to eat, they all enjoyed every single piece of food. Besides, Natalya realized the aunt and the cousin were just as nice as Misako, telling her about ancient Japanese tradition when eating and various other dishes they could try to make in the future. That made her happy and she decided to join the following Sunday at the market, to buy fish and eel and crab to make more dishes. Before she even knew it, they were all friends. They shared their thoughts, laughed together and even care for each other. When they felt it was time, they held a great feast at Misako’s home, with traditional decorations and all details taken care of.

 She was delighted to meet Misako’s parents, who were just the nicest couple in the world. They were older than her but wiser without a doubt. The father did not budge, the mother was obviously eager to know what it was all about. When the food came out, they all ate in silence. At the end of the meal, the father spoke in a harsh Japanese, which the aunt translated for Natalya. The father asked two things: where had Misako learned all of this and who was the woman that had joined him. Natalya felt out of place and insecure for a moment but then Misako put her hand on her shoulders and told her parents she had been the friend she needed. She explained how she learned by watching the cook at the restaurant and how she practiced in secret.

The father did not say a word for some time until he asked for everyone to raise a glass for his daughter, and her brilliant future. Misako cried in joy and Natalya felt she had found more than friends: she had found a family.

martes, 16 de septiembre de 2014


Chef Michel Jacquet was the best in his craft and there was overwhelming evidence of this all over his prized restaurant, the Austerlitz. Medals, cups, plaques and ribbons were displayed all over the dining hall, for every client to see.

This, of course, had not happened out of miracle. No. Michel was born a chef. From age five, he enjoyed staying at home with his mother and grandmother and see them planning breakfast, lunch and dinner. He was particularly fond of grand feasts that his family held every once in a while to celebrate important days as July 14th, every family member birthday or a town gathering which his family was always asked to cater.

He lived all of his childhood and teenage years in the small town of Vaite, relatively close to Germany and Switzerland. And during all those years he watched his mother do hundreds of dishes, as well as his grandmother and the baker, Monsieur Grand.

From Mr. Grand, he learned the art of pastries and by the age of fifteen he did the best éclairs Vaite could offer its few visitors and residents.

Encouraged by his mother, he left Vaite for Paris at age seventeen, to live with an uncle and learn the craft of the best teachers he could get. They were a middle class family but Michel had the advantage of being an only child so there was some money to spare on his education.

It was his dream to be on the Cordon Bleu school but the tuition was prohibitive and they only selected the best in all fields and Michel was only a skilled pastry maker. He had no idea of meat or fish or how to cook grandiose meals as his mother used to do.

The solution? Learn by himself. His uncle was a postman and left early and got in late. This time was used by Michel to watch all kinds of cooking shows on TV. He would also look for high cuisine books in a nearby library and would even come in the butcher's store to ask him to teach Michel how to cut pork, veal and lamb.

Believing to be ready, he went through the hard test in the Cordon Bleu. He was denied entrance and that put him in a severe depression that lasted for a couple of months. It was a hot summer but he wouldn't come out of bed. His uncle begged him to go out, meet girls and go dancing but Michel wasn't interested.

In order to stretch our of his misery, he looked for more schools and found Mrs. Villette school for cooking. True, it was a modest place to learn but according to many older students, Juliette Villette was among the best cooks in France but some bad reviews of her restaurant brought the place down and she decide to teach instead of fighting and ever demanding crowd.

Be that as it may, Michel excelled in all classes and soon got his diploma with the highest honors. Then, again, he applied for Cordon Bleu and failed once more. This time, however, he wasn't sad or disappointed. He had decided to be the best french cook to have ever lived and nothing would be able to stop him.

That was his turning point. He became obsessed with success and recognition. He went from loving cooking and food to just use them to surprise people and be loved as he had always wanted to be loved.

Although no one ever knew it, Michel had never really been physically attracted to anyone. He had never had the need for romantic love or sexual intercourse. But he was obsessed with people knowing who he was. This was likely to be a result of people never really believing in him, except his mother. He did not trusted people and had a passive aggressive behavior, that rarely bursted out.

He visited her only after he got his first restaurant job. He was sous-chef for Gaston Bisset, a respected chef in the city of Lyon. The man had seen Michel's talent and decided to hire him for his restaurante, the Licorne. When Michel told his mother the news, she just hugged him and kissed his cheek. It was all she wanted. After all, the father had died when Michel was very young and she had always regretted not giving him a sister or brother to share with.

In the Licorne, Michel excelled. He was fast, thorough and clean. His cuts were precise and his deserts found a place in the restaurant's menu. Everyone in Lyon knew of this young man that made the most delicious deserts.

Bisset soon became annoyed because everyone came to eat Michel's deserts and not his more recent creations such as lamb in tangerine sauce or his version of the popular ratatouille. No, everyone wanted an éclair or millefeuille from Michel.

The situation became tense. People saw them quarreling, yelling at each other and not talking to one another for days. It all ended one day when Bisset didn't show up and Michel had to take care of everything. Bisset was said to be very sick and Michel took this to his advantage: the Licorne was his. In one week, he created the most splendid dishes: salmon in lychee sauce, passion fruit chicken and macadamia nut ice cream on chia seed cake.

Bisset died. Officially it was a stroke. Some wanted Michel to stay in the Licorne but he decided to leave as he needed to create his own place and did so in the city of Quimper.

Not really known for its cuisine, Michel made the city renowned with the creation of Austerlitz, his restaurant. And that was how he got all the prizes and awards and how France and the world fell in love with his creations, in special his pastries.

Bu then, when all was great, Justine Bisset arrived went to Paris. She had seen her father in his last days and believed in her heart the stroke was just the final part of his death. She proceeded to sue Michel of killing her father.

Soon, the necessary evidence was gathered and, sure enough, the Austerlitz was lost, as Napoleon did many years ago. Justine cried in the court and explained how Michel poisoned her father in a moment of weakness and then proceeded to take over the Licorne. Michel always denied it all but the evidence was hard to overlook.

But he wasn't surrendering. In a stroke of genius, he escaped the police and the country. He grew a beard, started to exercise and opened a small pub in Scotland. Every now and again he made his amazing pastries for the townsfolk. And when someone was too disrespectful or didn't like his creations, he simply added a thin extra layer cream on his sweet works of art.