Day Three In My Virtual Alcatraz

Today was the 13th of March, which meant that it was Friday the 13th, a day of supposed supreme evil, but I don’t hold with such nonsense. It is just the day in history that the Pope said to kill all of the Knights Templar, not because the unlucky forces in the world are out to get us…that’s about as likely as getting a result for sacrificing a virgin by throwing them into an active volcano, but anyway, I ran under a ladder at the market for the thrill. I couldn’t find a black cat, but if I had, I would have squeezed it with love, not loathing.

Anyway, the 13th holds another meaning…it’s only one more month until school gets out! I’ve already decided not to come back for the next session, ever, I will explain more about this when school comes to a close, because, I may change my mind, but I’m doubtful.

At school today, we had our class pictures taken, which means that I got to iron my uniform. I always forget how fun ironing is, when you aren’t ironing a quarter inch seam on a scarf or something. That is just painful. Anyways, anyways, anyways, I looked adorable, I’m positive. I used every look Tyra, Miss J, and Mr J taught me through America’s Next Top Model: body at two o’clock, open mouth smile, looking down slightly, and, of course, smiling with your eyes.

I love getting my picture taken, but I hate so-called professionals taking my photo with their archaic poses and their faces full of boredom as they snap photo after photo. A main reason that I detest group photography is because somebody is always going to look retarded, it’s inevitable, and this sheer mountain of a man had about as much interest in his job as I have for football. I knew that he wasn’t going to take the important Photoshop time needed to layer his photos, find the best face for everybody and then bring the best layer to the top. It is easy to make a good group photo, it just takes a bit of time. So, I hope I don’t end up with the half-blink/yawn photo that people always seem to have in those photos. He never even told us when he was taking the pictures. Idiot.

I will stop complaining about the photograph after this paragraph, but I hate it when we are lined up like soldiers to take the photo. I think a group photo should be much more natural, and candid. Everybody should be around the people they like doing something natural, like cooking and laughing at the same time in the kitchens. It looks better than a photo of rows. I don’t know if I explained myself well enough, but the image in my head looks great.

After that, it was time for the demonstration. At the very beginning, we got information for the exam, which would take place in exactly a month. I am very confused about these exams. From what I’ve understood, there are three different tests, but they aren’t very well clarified. There is a cooking test, which involves an additional skill. We get a list of a certain number of recipes, and then draw one or two the day of the exam and then prepare them. There is a multiple choice test over the vocabulary in our binders we were never taught, which just seems silly. Then, finally, there is a fill in the blank test over ten recipes. Yesterday, they gave us a list of ten recipes and told us that we would need to know three on the day of the test. We will have to fill in missing ingredients or quantities, and somehow, that will prove our aptitude for the culinary arts. If you can’t tell, the whole thing sounds a bit excessive and overly difficult for the few things we’ve learned in three months. I can understand a written exam and the cooking exam, but the rest of it, I’m not too sure about.

Then, we got our grades. Turns out, I’m fifth in my class, not too bad, but we are within percentage points of each other, so the differences aren’t too great, but I’m still better than somebody else, so that makes me happy. I don’t really understand how the grading works, it’s all such crap, really. Oh well. We also have a class party next week at some pub, but I really don’t want to go. Trying to have a conversation with a drunken classmate isn’t really my thing, a fancy dinner, yes, a pub, I don’t think so. I may go for a bit, though, to see what it’s about, as the tickets cost $40 each, but free to students. (That is one great thing about Le Cordon Bleu, you may not feel as if the education was worth it, but they do give you a ton of great freebies, such as the knife kit, the $100 dinner, etc.)

In the Demonstration, Chef Jean-Jacques taught us how to make croissants. He was the same teacher that I had taken the weekend class with, so I already knew how to make the croissants. It was fun to watch him make the first batch of them, but the thirteenth batch of croissants showed us all how much we didn’t want to be pastry chefs. There is no joy here, the body becomes a machine, repeating a motion, thousands of times. Maybe your mind is elsewhere, and that is relaxing, but it isn’t something that I will be able to do the rest of my life. I need some kind of goal, as much as I hate them, some visible ending point or achievement. Here, each rolled croissant or risen baguette is that ending, there is nothing else to look forward to…forever, endlessly stretching out towards infinity. I don’t know if I was the only one having this philosophic musing with myself, but I found the whole thing to be horribly depressing and bleak.

He also made something called cherry windmills that looked like swastikas. We all laughed, then felt uncomfortable because we had laughed, and then laughed in our heads. It sounds awful, but it really was funny.

Then he made chocolate croissants, which aren’t as tasty as they sound. It is basically croissant dough wrapped around chocolate sticks, the end. The chocolate isn’t of good quality, and the end product isn’t that great. For the final recipe, he prepared brioche dough, which is just a sticky mess. I don’t know how anybody ever conceived of this recipe, you mix the ingredients, and then throw the thing at the table for twenty minutes until it gets harder. It was a mess.

The demonstration run exceedingly long, and then, it was time for the practical, where we would be doing the exact same thing we were just shown. The first thing we needed to do was make our dough. We all went about it like little clones of the Chef, each of us doing quite well for ourselves, until the Practical Chef came in and told us all we were doing it wrong. He proceeded to show us how he preferred it done. This was just the start of our mutiny on the Chef. We were all tired, sore, and in no mood to be corrected on the things we were doing perfectly well. None of us really understood why the school doesn’t have a system of standards in teaching, what is the point of a three-hour demonstration, if we are going to do it in a completely different manner?

Our Chef in Practical is a bit odd, all the time, but he seemed even odder today. He has always liked Nancy and I a lot, which I don’t mind, because he is nice to me, but he had some kind of vendetta against Ilaria and Nicholas, he was critiquing them and telling them they were wrong and telling them to be quiet. It was interesting to see Nicholas, kind of snap, he is always so cool and collected, but today, he seemed a bit demented, and a lot more fun! I felt bad for Ilaria, the administration is really messing with her. They counted her absent on days she was present, and she had to be assistant twice.

Soon, though it felt an eternity later, it was time for judgement. I was the first one to be critiqued, so I was nervous because everybody was watching. He really liked my croissants, he even used them as a model for the class as what theirs should look like. I pretended to be humble, but inside, was beaming with joy, I knew my croissants were very nice, and I mean nice. One or two of my classmates had their croissants literally melt. I had noticed this happen at home once or twice when Jessica and I made them. It turns out that if you aren’t careful with them when you transfer them, they can break, and bleed; their blood is butter.

In the locker room, there was a lot of complaints about Chef, and even though I hadn’t been on the receiving end of his wrath, I had to agree that he acted in a completely unprofessional and bizarre manner.

Back home, I looked forward to seeing my repaired Internet. I had called the agency this morning to give them permission to come into the apartment without me being home so that they could fix the horrible technological state I am in. I was saddened to see that nobody had come, so, again, I sit alone without the connection to my reality–the Internet. (That sounds sad, doesn’t it? But it’s kind of true. I would go to rehab for Internet addiction if I didn’t love it so much.)

This experience has taught me a very valuable lesson, one that I never thought I would agree with. In the world of technology, there has always been a battle over the future of electronics. One camp argues that we should have one device that can do everything for the sake of convenience. The other camp thinks that we should all have individual electronics that do things better, a cell phone, an iPod, a camera, etc. I have always been a fan of all-in-one devices, until this week. My technology hub is an all-in-one that controls my television, my phone, and my Internet. When one of these goes, it’s like a crappy chain of Christmas lights, and they all go. No Internet, no phone, no television, just stranded. So, that being expressed, I never intend to have my lifelines controlled by one vulnerable machine, it’s too big of a danger, I am now in favor of well constructed, trustworthy devices who will do their job regardless of the others.

I ran down to the grocery store, which is thirty seconds away, to get the ingredients to make 40 garlic clove chicken, the best chicken in the world. For the recipe, go to www.williams-sonoma.com and search the recipe on their site. I quickly had everything I needed and headed for the checkout. I had to experience the nightmare of a non-working credit card, there is truly no worse horror than that. I swiped it a hundred times, the clerk swiped it twice as many times, and finally, it worked. I was very stressed out and ran home to make myself some food. I had the extreme misfortune of buying a bottle of wine with a rotted cork. I needed just a little bit of wine, but no, like everything else in my life currently, this decided to give me problems. The cork refused to do anything but crumble. I fought with it for a half hour, probably, before I just jammed what was left of it into the bottle, then strained out the little bits of cork. I was livid.

By that time, I didn’t have time to make chicken with 40 garlic cloves, so I made some pasta and began watching Doctor Who, a show that I never thought I would watch. I never intended to watch it, that is, until Catherine Tate became a regular on the show. She is a British comedienne, who stars in two different shows that I like, The Catherine Tate Show and Wild West with Dawn French. Anyway, this bizarre sci-fi show of weirdness, is actually pretty good. I’m slightly embarrassed to watch it, but I won’t stop.

It was a marathon of episodes that I had downloaded before this fiasco, so I couldn’t stop myself watching. What else was I supposed to do? The couch was getting uncomfortable though, which made me realize that it isn’t only a couch, oh no, it is a bed, too! I love couch beds more than I am willing to admit, there is just something so horrid and wonderful about them. This one, though, is the best couch bed I have ever experienced, it is as comfortable, if not more so, than my regular bed. When Ma, Granny, and Jessica come over next month, whoever sleeps there will be very comfortable.

I fell asleep and was woken up at five o’clock by Ma calling to tell me that an Internet technician is coming over at four o’clock tomorrow afternoon. (On a Valentine’s day even, I know!) So, I pray to the heavens above that by this time tomorrow, I will be able to post this blog, and let the world know of my sufferings. Good day.

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