Sorry to have left you stranded in the middle of Maryland. I’ve gotten a bit tangled up in work and since I haven’t had the chance to update you in my travels, I thought I would fly you into my current journey. I am currently a few stories above the surface of the ocean. Nonetheless still in the kitchen. My day to day is preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner for one of the US Navy’s Admirals and his officers on board one of the US Navy’s aircraft carriers! Before we dig into the food, it’s only right that I tell you of the coolness of the carrier experience. I’m on a ship with an airport one level above me. Okay, it’s not an airport but it’s a flight deck with a runway, littered with planes. I haven’t been up for takeoffs and landings yet but I’ve watched them on the monitors with authentic surround sound, it’s kind of hard to muffle the sound of a jet engine. On certain days, I spotted choppers and planes in the distance on their way in. As they pass over my head with their deafening speeds, I did notice the bluest of oceans! I don’t think I’ve ever been so far into the ocean. The best view I’ve had was from the bridge, sort of like the ship’s sky tower. High above all, well most, of the noise.
But a little lower, where I belong, in the kitchen, with more familiar clatter of plates and knives, slammed oven doors and cracked eggs, I’m reminded of my work in Boston, cooking for the crew of the USS Constitution – Old Ironsides. the work is fairly similar, though the space is a bit smaller and we do a bit more here than prepare meals. We do however cook for about the same number as I used to and we have more people to do it here, preparing about the same quality. Difference is, though, we plate and serve the food here rather than a serving line. My favorite daily meal is breakfast, only because I have a blast at the grill, preparing eggs to order. Most commonly I’m making omelets, but I’ll also get orders for scrambled and fried eggs, or depending on the day, breakfast burritos. I’m not so sure the reason for my fascination with the eggs, but I think maybe I appreciate the challenge of keeping the tickets at bay, without inadvertently breaking any yolks or just mastering the technical aspects. I think I think a little too much about these things for those I work with. “Just cook the eggs! Get it out.”
Notice, please, that I specified daily meal. Sundays, the admiral hosts a sort of family dinner. We break out the fine formal wear and serve a carefully crafted three course meal. This is where we get fancy. Honestly, I kind of expected this to be the caliber expected for each meal in the flag mess, where we serve the admiral and the officers that work beneath him. But we’ve served rib eye with loaded baked potatoes and sautéed broccoli; strawberry shortcake; spiced apple salad with dried cranberries, candied pecans, and a berry brown sugar vinaigrette. Most recently the menu was an avocado, bacon, ranch salad. I served a main course of grilled coconut shrimp on atop pineapple fried rice with julienne vegetables, nestled into freshly hollowed pineapple bowls. Dessert was another’s creation: Bacon, pecan waffle a la mode, with a bacon pecan brittle and a chocolate-butterscotch drizzle. The Sunday meals motivate me to make it through the week. I sometimes get stressed, frustrated, or irritated with the work and sometimes the people to be honest, questioning if this is really what I want to do. Then I arrive at Sunday, where I am allowed to take my time and showoff the techniques I’ve practiced or showcase the knowledge I’ve garnered and come to the end of the day with such a peace of satisfaction that’s makes me think, “Yeah, I can do this.” Without the Sunday formals, I might otherwise burnout and lose interest. Thank God for formals.
During the last leg of the journey, The plans are to become the night baker. I’m not bad at baking but it’s not my strength so I’m looking forward to the practice. There’s also someone on board who is known by some, (due to the font plastered on his back) as the CAKE BOSS. I intend to shadow as many of his projects as I can. I don’t know if you’ve seen my Battle of Midway cake, but I look with aspiration to what’s to come. And I hope to see you there.
Before I go, a quick thanks to my sister. Connectivity on the seas hasn’t been the easiest. So to Mariah, through whose bit of technical savvy has allowed the success of this post, thank you.