My Palm Springs friend Bob has hired a real, professional chef to cook dinner for me this evening. After some consideration and discussion with both Bob and the chef, I realized that the best approach to this was not to try to somehow coordinate having one or two friends join the chef and me but rather to hog him for myself.
That way, we can talk about food and cooking while he cooks us a fabulous meal with me as his semi-skilled kitchen help. That is, when I’m not taking notes.
Besides, being a chef, he has only one day a week off, and there was an emergency last week so he had to cancel the original date, and I couldn’t possibly subject friends to this kind of uncertainty.
I’m getting more and more keyed up over this as the day goes on. Gonna be great fun, except I realize this morning that my two best knives (old Henckels) are both dull, and of course while I know a real chef is gonna be bringing his own knives, just as I take my own to Amsterdam and Midland (if Mel, the old fart, stays alive until November), but still, what if by accident the chef picks one of mine up? I mean, the shame, the shame, the sarcophagic shame.
So I make an emergency call to Jivano, my sharpener, but damn his eyes, he doesn’t pick up.
See, I’ve got friends whose extensive collections of always-razor-sharp knives are slotted alpha-numerically waiting, waiting for the absolutely correct need to arise. Me, where’s the excitement in that? Oh no, much more fun to pace frantically around while Jivano doesn’t return my call until I’m near hysterical and then snatch up the phone only to get a recorded message saying there’s a server problem in the local area that will be resolved shortly while we patrons display our customary high levels of understanding and patience.
I feel like running down there and pounding on his door screaming, “we know yer in there, dude.” Except of course I don’t know he’s in there.
But luckily, just before I expire of frustration, he gets through and I rush down there with the knives. Well, I try to rush, but see, there’s absolutely no place to park for blocks in any direction around his shop so I grab the Segway, forgetting that the damn thing is fully charged and thus allows me only to c r e e p s l o w l y down the hill because you can’t turn off the regenerative braking and it won’t allow any electricity to be generated.
“Mommy, why is that man on the Segway screaming as he inches down the hill?”
So of course the delay allows this yuppie bastard with fifty dull knives to get in ahead of me, which gives me the chance to calm down while cruising around the neighborhood snapping pics of pieces of things while I wait.
Like this narrow window of opportunity across 18th Street from Jivano’s. I mean, for that shaft of sun to get down in there and illuminate that light well, both the time of year and the time of day had to be exactly right:
Then I kill a few more minutes at Tartine since I’m on the block. The croissants are like clouds…at least until you heft the bag and realize that while you can’t see all that butter, you sure can feel the weight of it.
Luckily, it’s 3:00 now and so I dare eat only one. The chef will be arriving at 5:00, and now I have to straighten the house up and lie down for a few minutes and then shower and shave and spray myself with this German SS-strength deodorant that I picked up in Amsterdam and guzzle a pot of coffee before the bell rings and I amble to the door and slowly open it, casually brushing my hair out of my eyes and saying calmly, “Give you a hand with that?”