Hopefully garnering the respect it deserves.
Unfortunately, I can't recall where the writer's bakery was, but irrespective of that inconsequential trivia, in the story - this lady would quietly come to his oven & buy bread from him a few days a week. After awhile, she brought in her prized heirloom, one day, just to share it's story with the baker of whom she perceived as producing bread as she did in the old-country. Reading the story, I remembered being so moved by that gesture, as was the Baker... it was the ultimate respect.
I remember a French-Canadian Chef I worked for back in the mid to late 90's that was a notoriously anal retentive stickler for classical perfection. I heard about him which is why I searched out his kitchen. It was a wonderful environment, no one spoke. I loved it! You could work... and work.. and work. No nonsense... no interruption.. no drama. It was a black & white world that I've emulated in every kitchen I've run. Unfortunately, the current day pussified culture of self-entitled youth & wanna-be celebrity Chefs doesn't resonate with the work ethic that requires so I'm not too oft understood, but... I could care less if you like me.
Anyhow, before I digress in diatribe, he would stalk me. At first, he would stand in places out of clear sight - in locations he could study me. I was hired by a Sous, and as such, Chef & I had never spoken. And he never spoke to me for a long while. He was always there, but never there. As time went on he would stand next to me in my station, and although I was hired as a Tournant, I was footed as a Grillardin. My 6 foot Aztec was at the end
, and often he would stand at the corner of the grill inspecting every placement every turn. He would be as red as I was from the oak. He would stand right near me, over me per se (figuratively as he was around 5'7"), watching every move I made; challenging me to phuck up. He would sit outside my window... glaring at me one eye at a time.. challenging me to fold. I loved him. I watched him as closely as he did me... arguably closer, but I'll give him the nod on that one as he was free to roam at will. He began giving me the day Sous' prep the night before, but he never gave me any instruction beyond, "Lobster Bisque. 4 deep 1/2's [pans]", or "start veal stock; finish tomorrow."
I would always watch him taste, and I always waited for an at-a-boy... or a scolding, just the same. It never came.
My training was from classical Nazi-Frenchies, and from their abuse... well, compounded by their abuse, I was a confident young cook. One day, I gave in though, and I asked him, "how is the bisque.?!"
His reply made me feel like I was the baker being shown the bowl. He said... reminiscently, "like from the old-country..."
So I thank you Mr. Magnus, for reminding me of that. I had not read that book yet in the late 90's, and it wasn't until just now I felt those independent yet parallel memories entwine...
I'm too damn young to be reminiscing like this.