Thursday, September 27, 2012

the last book I ever read (Marcus Samuelsson's Yes, Chef, excerpt two)

from Yes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson:

Just as I had stayed late working at Belle Avenue, I put in extra hours before and after my shifts, doing advance prep work in the mornings and meticulous cleanup at night. All I had to offer was my labor and my attention, and I was willing to give both. The only time I slipped out was for what had become, since my arrival, a daily ritual: throwing up. Every morning, I came into work and felt the familiar knot tie itself in my stomach. The knot would soon be followed by bile filling the back of my throat, and it was only a matter of time before I'd have to bolt to the bathroom. I'd experienced the problem now and then at my Göteborg jobs when the stress got too high, but now that I was completely without that hometown comfort zone, the frequency of the nausea ratcheted up to coincide with the increased pressures of the job.

For the most part, I was able to keep my nerves under wraps, doing my business quietly and then going right back to work. Until they installed a new key card entry system, and on the day the system went into effect, my card for the kitchen's exit door demagnetized at the least opportune time. I panicked, and then I spewed. As the spilled contents of my stomach dripped down the face of the door, three sauciers came along, deftly stepping past while nodding at me and saying only, "Guten tag. Wie gehts, Mr. Samuelsson." Take it easy.

As soon as I felt the first wave of queasiness each day, I looked for an opportunity to leave my station. I didn't want to be noticed, which meant I couldn't be away for more than five or six minutes. Health codes dictated that we leave our aprons in the kitchen so that we wouldn't get any bacteria on them in the bathroom. But if I put mine on a peg, it was like a red flag showing I was gone. So I wore it to the bathroom and left it outside the door.

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