Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Beaten, Seared, and Sauced

I read a lot.  One of my favorite things to do is go to the local public library and just browse around until I find something interesting to read at the time.  The most recent book I've read has nothing to do with geology but I suppose is somewhat connected to education. 

Beaten, Seared, and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America by Jonathan Dixon (2011, Clarkson Potter) is a recounting of a student's experience at the world-famous CIA here in the mid-Hudson Valley.  Dixon, an almost 40-year-old writer and adjunct instructor at the time, made a mid-life decision to become a chef.

It wasn't a great book, but I enjoyed reading it (I finished it in one night).  Dixon's a decent writer, as would be expected given his background, and I found the mentions of many places I know in the area interesting.  It did give some insight into the CIA as well and how they train their students.  (One part of me would love to be able to scream at some students the way chefs are allowed to do!).

Dixon's description of how he now views the produce quality at a local chain supermarket after taking a course on fruit and vegetables at the Culinary will make you realize how much we've settled for mediocrity over quality and will have you thinking of getting all your produce at the local farmer's market.  His description of chicken killing will have you agreeing with him that it's a sin to poorly cook one and waste it (no, it didn't cause me to consider vegetarianism - I like animal flesh!).

Be nice to have more time on Earth to do things.  I think I'd enjoy going to the CIA and learning how to cook well and a bit of the science behind it.  Wouldn't want to be a chef though - I've worked around kitchens in my younger days (dishwasher, busboy, and waiter at various places) and I know there's no glamour in busting your ass in a hot kitchen for 12 hours a day.

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