21 September 2005

The Iceland Diaries III – Day 6

Wednesday, 17 August 2005

I'm an idiot.

I can't stop beating myself up about events (or lack thereof) earlier this morning at the Icelandic Hottay models' place. What the fuck was I doing?

I'm pretty sure I do have a cold. Work will be fun.

Still no word from Pink, the bastard. I'm staying at the hotel, though Friday and Saturday nights are still questionable. The staff are very helpful and doing what they can, and for the extra 18,000kr-40,000 they're earning, I'd hope so. I just need a couple people to miss their planes today and tomorrow.


  • Cookin'
  • Cleanin'
  • Bleedin' 'eck!

I woke up at 9:00a.m. and knew something else was wrong. Either I feel like shit from the pot and too many cigarettes or I'm getting a cold. Just what I need.

When I got to 22 Hebba was there pulling chairs off tables between sips of her coffay. I asked her for a double espresso while opening up the computer case. I'll have a few hours on-line once I've set up the kitchen.

I don't have to make the soup of the day. I forgot to mention I did that with Halli yesterday: potato and leek. It may sound a bit hearty for August but this is Iceland and the temps are hanging between 10° and 15°C (or 50°-60° in Fahrenweird). And it's raining. So that's one thing out of the way.

I also have to come up with a Special of the Day. It needs to be relatively cheap (1000kr or less) and since students and unprepared tourists often go for the burger or that, it needs to be easy and quick to make. There's no way I'm making something cheap that takes twice the work of something expensive, especially since we get a lot of people ordering expensive shit like the fish of the day.

There's another catch to making the special: there ain't a lot here to make something with. We have noodles and capers and I thought I could do a spaghetti or tagliatelle with tuna and capers. No go: no tuna. And no, I can't run to Bónus and get some. It's not done. Not even if I buy it myself which I was about to do.

Dammit. Halli had mentioned yesterday that he sometimes does BLTs so I went with that. And there's more redfish (ocean perch) so the Fish of the Day today is the same as yesterday's despite it being a pain in the ass requiring too much time and attention because frankly, I can't be arsed to come up with another recipe for it based on the limited ingredients here. At least it's not as much work as the club sammich. I hate making those, and because I hate them so much I also know they'll be ordered so I need to prep a lot of bacon and chicken.

Chicken. That's a fun one in Iceland. According to Halli almost every piece available tests positive for salmonella so the first rule of the kitchen is to make damned sure the chicken is cooked completely through. This is why the chicken is often so dry in most restaurants there. The other prime directive has to do with handling said dead birds. Anything used fr that is used for nothing else. There's a box of latex gloves, a special cutting board and knife, and a pan to hold the packs of chicken breasts in case a little drop of chicken-water escapes the thickly sealed trays.

As I started pulling supplies out of the fridge and arranging the cooking area, I saw that someone didn't feel like doing the nighttime re-prep last night. I had to cut everything: tomatoes, cukes, onions, peppers, lettuce, finely-chopped veggie bits and more. The grated cheese bag was empty and my only remaining supply was an 8kg block of "cheese", probably Edam or Gouda. Fun. I had to search for the box grater.

Let's back up for a second...
I started helping my mother in the kitchen before I could walk, so she told me. I actually have memories of doing it I was three. When I was a teenager I did a couple years at a fairly well-known cooking school. I feel at home in a kitchen. I jump in the kitchen when necessary at my bar.

While I'm not a juggler, I am a bartender and I do some of that stupid flashy shit, throwing and spinning bottles, and not just the little 33cl coke bottle. I spin 1.5l bottes of merlot. I'm quite accustomed to feeling the centre of gravity -- and therefore, the axis for spin if I toss it in the air -- on almost any object I can lift.

I hadn't done enough tomatoes and needed to prep some more. I prefer to core them first. There being no little paring knife I was using the best knife onto which I'd put a wicked edge and point. I meant to pick up the blade edge to use the point to fix them 'maters, but I'd picked it up by the handle. No worries, I just gave it a quick flick, planning to catch the back of the blade.

I'm a bleedin' idiot.

0.3 sec after removing towel

The fucker cut straight to the bone. It didn't hurt too much though. The first aid kit was severely lacking in bandages so I made do with towels and tape. This thing was going to bleed for a while so I was going to be stuck wearing a latex glove all day. While a trip to the hospital would have been well in order, there was no one else to call to come in. If it's still bleeding tonight I'll go.

Leo stopped by on his way to Pasta Basta with the chef's shirt he'd promised to bring me. It was about 18 sizes too big for this hound. I'm cooking in a nice T-shirt.

After 90 minutes or so the kitchen was ready for customers but they, apparently, weren't ready for us. I surfed, read, answered mail and did the sudoku puzzle in today's Blaðið in record time.

At around 2:00p.m. people started shuffling in and I finally had something to do besides staring outside the window at the sky which had cleared up and the people who were filling the streets.

They kept coming in.

As dinnertime approached and the day tour buses returned with their cargoes of camera-toters, we filed up and I got busy. I started having to juggle. There were only two small fry vats and orders coming in which really needed four vats to do easily. I quickly discovered I hate making the battered chicken strips at least as much as I hate the club sandwich, especially since I had to prep them to order but also continually watch the fryer. I then had to look for the thickest strip and cut into it to make sure there wasn't the slightest trace of moisture in the centre, brown-ness of the batter be damned.

I never noticed when Hebba had left and Valdi took over. Someone kept bringing me pink slips with food orders. I kept cooking, occasionally checking my thumb. The skin was starting to stick togeter and only the tiniest bit of blood was coming out. Until the pressure was relieved for more than ten seconds. It took 15 to get a new wrap on it but I was going to survive.

We slowed down around 8:00p.m. and I drank a well-deserved Egil's before restocking everything. I'd had to cut some veg and refill the hamburger sauce in the midst of the rush but now I had time.

Quoth Valdi: "Are you staying to help close?" Why not? We played cards between takign care of customers, me occasionally making a burger or fries for the late-nighters. I stocked up, cleaned up, and the kitchen was done by 11:00.

We talked a bit, I drank quite a bit more. I don't think I told him what had happened last night.

And after last night there was no way I was heading to Sírkus. I could probably essplain things if I ran into the girls but I just... couldn’t. For the same reason I avoided Vegamót and Ari i Ogri, two other likely hang-outs for the Icelandic Hottay models. I risked Prikið and ended up drinking much gin while talking to some tourists.

I don’t remember getting home to sleep but I know I woke up the next day feeling none the better for wear.


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