Back less than a week...and I'm climbing the walls. Figuratively if not literally. Well, there were definitely things that I missed about Pagosa, our house, walking the dogs without leashes, our kitchen at KG,...our house. Okay, those are really the only things that I truly missed, there are some amazing people that we've gotten to know out here...but let's be real, the ones that we like we can stay in touch with from anywhere, although I'll always remember that we met them here. Speaking of memorable people, NYC was an interesting walk through the past this year. I grew up in the city and spent the major percentage of my life there. Sometimes I can go back and never see a soul outside my inner circle and sometimes I run into ghosts at every turn. This trip was definitely an example of the latter.
There was the sushi assistant that I knew vaguely from culinary school. Really just an acquaintance of mine but good friends with people I knew well...it took an entire meal to figure out that I knew him. Sometimes people seem familiar and you don't know exactly why, but if you're lucky, eventually you figure it out. Then there was the waiter (okay, male server) that I used to work with. The owners of KG have an apartment on the upper west side where we catered a couple of cocktail parties for media and travel agents. Being in the area sent me down memory lane to a restaurant where I waited tables ten(!!!) years ago. A couple of days later, in a midtown restaurant, who should appear but one of my old cronies turned nemesis from that recently remembered, now defunct restaurant. He was serving lunch to my mother and I and there was instant recognition, on my behalf. I'm still hoping he didn't recognize me although I realize the chances are slim. He noted that I had dined there before (I hadn't), so there was some level of recognition, but as I remember from my days in the front of the house, the ones you remember are not necessarily the ones that remember you...especially when you deal with so many people each and every day. It strained the occasion somewhat but Mom and I still had a lovely lunch. Lastly, a blast from the past, an e-mail from decades ago, summer camp in the eighties, arriving in my last days in NYC. No definitive response there, I still don't know why or where exactly it came from, but it was a much more pleasant stroll down memory lane. Since there was no response to my response, I don't know what the inquiry was meant to be. Summer camp was a very special thing and I highly recommend it for all children. Memories that last a lifetime are actually a bonus sometimes.
My first time spent in a professional kitchen was at summer camp. The one after the one mentioned above. I became buddies with the chefs and was allowed into the dining room early to help set up for meals. I was never refuse extras on special treats and I loved the camaraderie and feel of the kitchen. I didn't imagine at the time that it would be where I would spend most of my days, but it was a wonderful place to be. Hanging out with the chefs I tasted things that I would never have tried before (like pecan pie) and I enjoyed them, although I've never really enjoyed them again. Perhaps the moment really does make the dish. Perhaps certain things can only be enjoyed at a specific moment in time. I still bake a mean pecan pie. Alex loves it. I've never had any desire to taste it. That day long ago, plating the pie and stealing the crumbly bits from the pans, remains the only time I have ever enjoyed eating pecan pie. Or ever even wanted to. Somehow the memory tastes better than any real pie ever could. There's been a definitive taste from almost everywhere I've been, astropops, cotton candy, Lillian's pizza, grilled hamburgers, giant lobsters. Twenty years from now I wonder what flavor I'll remember from here.