A Murderous Heat

Monday, June 9, 2008

Summer arrived overnight, without warning and the kitchen was stiffling. Restaurant kitchens in summer are the stuff of legend. I must have spent a hundred dollars on popcicles this week. It's all I can do. Some people are more affected than others. I have a pregnant woman on staff who had to bail early on one of the worst days. We have an Igloo cooler in the walkin in which we make refrescas -concoctions of fruit juice, ice, water, soda, limes and mint. It's handy for the cooks and it is better than drinking soft drinks all night which are not refreshing at all. Strangest of all, when the temperature dropped to ninety, everyone perked up.

Summer has arrived a little ahead of its traditional produce, like cucumbers, tomatoes and watermelon, but this weather has been a real boon to the space monster plants out front of the restaurant. That hot dry corner seems to be perfect for desert species. The flowers are so dramatic that people walking by them are stopped in their tracks. Hopefully by the weekend we'll at least have cucumbers and the first watermelons so that we can bring back cold fried chicken, which is served with these things plus devilled eggs. The tomato and watermelon salad will have to wait a little longer. We heard from Walter Atwater this week and he says that good summer tomatoes are just a week or so away. He has ninety plants so it appears that we'll have plenty. Speaking of flowers, it seems like the honeysuckle won't quite go away so the sorbet will be available from time to time, but probably won't be on the menu. You'll have to ask.

One last thing to report that both does and doesn't pertain to our kitchen. When I came to work at Crook's in 1993 Antonio Lopez was already working there. In 1995 he returned home to Celaya to start a business- Comida Corrida a take out restaurant. The peso collapsed shorty afterward and soon he and some of his friends were back in Chapel Hill. He got his paperwork in order and began the process of moving his family up here. This took some doing, but now they are all here. I am proud to say that I am now their sponsor with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, having signed documents agreeing to be responsible if they sneak onto the foodstamp or wellfare rolls. I have no fear of this. Last Sunday I had the pleasure of attending a Mass honoring the twenty-fifth anniversary of Antonio's marriage to Margarita.

posted by Bill Smith at 3:50 PM


Blogger SESC Family said...

Hi Bill, it was SO good to see you this week! The honeysuckle sorbet is truly amazing; I'm so glad to finally get to try it. Thanks so much and hope to see you again soon. Anne A.

June 27, 2008 9:08 AM  
Blogger Billy said...

Hi Bill - I had the pleasure of working with you after you started at Crooks for a few months before I had moved away from Chapel Hill in 1993. There were 3 Bills/Billys in the kitchen at the time. Great to find this site (and your book). Also great to get an update on Antonio - I recall being exposed to authentic Mexican food by Angel and him from the lunches they made when I was prep cooking (the carne apache was an eye-opener). Take care - Billy D.

June 27, 2008 12:46 PM  

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