Foodie, Chapter 3

written by Schmutzie

Evan made his way to her station. He quietly set his backpack on the floor by the sink, removed a steno pad and a pen, and put them on the counter. His eyes smiled apologetically through a lock of hair that curled by his temple, and she gave him a little wave.

“Ahem.” The professor cleared his throat and then loudly clapped his hands together twice. “Let’s get on with the assignment. You two can make eyes at each other after class.”

Malorie blushed at his insinuation of an attraction between Evan and her in front of classmates whom she barely knew. Professor Talbot was obviously a teacher who adhered to the philosophy of tough love, and that is all it took for her to second-guess herself for what must be the third or fourth time since she had reached over to hit the alarm clock that morning. If there were a career path in second-guessing, and this were its school, she would already be the dean of the whole institution. She didn’t know if she could handle dealing with a professor who had no problem making her feel uncomfortable. Public embarrassment made her shut down, not open up to learning new skills.

She noticed that Evan was already picking through the ingredients on the counter to find out what they had to work with, and she gave her head a little shake. Not even ten minutes into class, and her mind was wandering. After the fast pace of the diner jobs that she was used to, it was going to take some time to adjust to an environment in which there were not prep cooks, dishwashers, waitresses, and loud customers simultaneously competing for her attention. This first assignment was a test of knowledge and performance under pressure, but it felt relatively calm. Still, she did have to prove herself right from the start.

“Have you made duck confit before?” she asked Evan.

“If you know as much as I do about it, then we’re both wondering how Professor Talbot expects us to cure a duck leg, poach it in its own fat, and cook it for between ninety minutes and ten hours within the next twenty minutes.” When he grinned, his eyes crinkled at the corners.

“I’m guessing that he has the duck legs ready for us,” she said, lifting a large plate cover to reveal a prepared duck leg. “I think he just put that part up on the board to turn the pressure on.”

“Oh, look who’s the smart one,” he said jokingly and chuckled softly under his breath.

Time was counting down, so they threw themselves into the task of creating poached eggs. Malorie found herself shying away from Evan’s hands and elbows as they dealt with ingredients next to each other at the counter. Evan seemed so comfortable with the close quarters, but she was not. The station felt more intimate than the bustle of diner kitchens, and Evan felt familiar somehow. It felt as though she had known him once, maybe a long time ago. I don’t know him, though. I’ve moved around a lot. I’ve lived in a few cities. I’m probably just confusing him with someone else. Still, every time he glanced at her or asked her a question, it seemed that she knew the intonation of his speech, that she could predict the shapes the expressions on his face would make.

She tried to put all thoughts not related to eggs and the poaching of them out of her mind. This assignment was the first step in a direction away from naugahyde booths, gum-chewing waitresses, and dishwashers who received surprise visits from their parole officers, and she was going to succeed at this no matter how early she had to get up in the morning or how long the commute or how much the cost of gas forced her to sneak food from the refrigerators at school. I am going to make this work. I will be a chef one day if I have to starve while doing it!

Evan readjusted a few leaves of arugula and waved his hands above the plate like a game show model showing off a prize.

“I think we did a pretty good job,” he said. “We’ve aced this first…”

Bing! Professor Talbot hit a bell at the front of the class to signal that their twenty minutes was over.

“Time! Take a seat so that I can have a look at the potential, or lack thereof, that I have to look forward to this semester.”

He harrumphed over the first couple of stations, running his finger along the edges of plates to turn them in circles. Malorie gripped the edge of her stool and stared at the floor. Suddenly, she, the queen of second-guessers, was at it again. All she needed was just a simple nod from Professor Talbot to make her believe for a moment that this could happen, just one simple nod.

9 Responses to “Foodie, Chapter 3”

  1. June 12, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    This is wonderfully done

  2. June 12, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    I am amazed with how well this is going! You all rock!

  3. June 12, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    Is there a calendar that I can add to my Google Cal because this is something I’d write down and look forward to 3 or 4 days before posting.

  4. June 12, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    I wish! I always post as soon as I get each chapter from the latest author. However, each author can’t start writing until the previous chapter is in. There’s no way to know how long it will take them, but hopefully never more than a week. It’s an experiment of course. I think the next book will have a calendar like that with new posts on Tuesday and Fridays or something. Thanks for the feedback!

  5. June 12, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    I particularly like the bit about him being so familiar to her…great job!

  6. June 13, 2008 at 3:43 am

    This was so well-written–you pulled the story forward nicely.

  7. June 13, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    Thanks, guys! It was fun to write.

  8. July 31, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Wow! I love the descriptions in this. It sounds very researched, or at least well thought out. Great stuff!

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June 2008
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