French Expression: Dans La Lune. In the moon. To be “out of it” or unfocused. When your head is not in the game.
I wanted to come back to work at the 3-star Parisian restaurant I cook at well-rested without triple bags under my eyes, glowing of golden California sun, floating around the kitchen as if Cinderella’s fairy godmother had made it possible for me to go to the ball too.
I came back the day before the re-opening of the restaurant so I was jet-lagged. The 9 hour time difference made it easy to start work at 6AM but difficult to finish at 11PM. The color in my cheeks came from a powder compact of bronzer because San Francisco was sunless and freezing cold – colder than Paris in fact! No floating around the kitchen either due to a major snowboard injury while I was home. I fell smack on my knees while boarding an icy slope and then was shish-ka-bobbed in the back by a skier.
One might say I like to start the year out on the right foot. Especially since my left one is incapacitated. (duh-dum, dum)
Regardless, I was super excited to see the whole crew again. In fact, I think everybody was happy to see one another given our fatigue and ill-humor the last time we all parted ways. Even the executive chef who I had once nicknamed the Nazi Chef (but I’ve revoked for now) gave me four kisses on the cheeks and wished me a bonne année!
I started back to work at the viande station hacking apart little forest creatures thanking God quietly that the hunting season will be over soon and the extra 7 plates on our menu along with it. I’ve become so desensitized to feathered and fury animals with their little eyeballs peeping out that one might think I was the executioner for Henry VIII reincarnated. Just kidding, my boss is worse anyways.
me very very very tired with wild pigeon
But I was so dans la lune while I was filleting my pigeons and de-boning their little legs that I had completely forgotten we changed the recipe. Ooops – no need to debone and stuff the legs anymore! My boss looked over at my work and exclaimed
Chef: “Oh la vache! Tu es vraiment dans la lune!” (Holy cow! You are really in the moon! )
Amy: “Ah, buh oui Chef, il est deux heure dans le matin pour moi maintenant!” (It’s 2AM for me right now)
Chef: “Ah, buh oui Amy, mais ça c’est de la merde” (your work is shit)
Amy: “Ah buh oui Chef, ça c’est claire” (yes, that’s clear)
Chef: “Ah Amy, ‘ow could you do zees? I told you zees morning not to forget zee new recipe. Peel zee onions and carrots instead. I finish zee pigeon.
Amy: “Okay, you finish zee pigeon, si vous voulez”
Despite my costly little preparation error, I somehow made it through the afternoon service without any problems. In fact I was surprised at how easily our rhythm came back. We flowed through orders for pheasant, palomb, colvert, ris de veau, pigeon, lamb, veau, volaille de Bresse, pintade and more as if we had been cooking it for a hundred years. As if there was no mystery in turning out perfectly browned crispy skin with juicy flesh or sweetbreads ever so crispy on the outside and meltingly delicious inside. It was a good lunch service.
But then I did something not so smart. I went home and took an hour nap during the break and I could barely wake up afterwards. I felt like some one had secretly drugged me with a whole bottle of Nyquil. It took every last drop to muster myself out of bed, throw on my chef’s whites, and hobble out the door, up the street, and back to work. I had two strong espressos once at work to get me through the preparation and two more after the staff dinner to get me through the service. I couldn’t even see straight by the time our first order came in. Then I started making mistakes…
Chef: “Palomb! Pas pigeon! Le command etait pour palomb!” (Wild pigeon, not pigeon, the order is for wild pigeon!”
Amy: “Oh merde!” (oh shit!)
Chef: “Exactment Amy! Tu es vraiment, vraiment dans la lune ce soir!”
and it continued…
Chef: “Oh putain! Qu-es-que c’est ça? Plus de coloration pour la ris de veau! Oh putain!” (Oh f#$ck! What is that? More coloration for the sweetbreads. Oh f@#ck!”)
Amy: “Excusez-moi Chef, je suis dans la lune maintenant” (Excuse me Chef, I’m in the moon right now)
Chef: “C’est clair” (That is clear)
We managed to finish the service. Or rather my boss managed to finish the service while I began to slowly unravel at the seems. I was thankful when the executive chef announced the last order and it was for the fish station. I started to clean…
We empty all the grease from all of our pots and pans into a bucket and then dispose of it after dinner service. I’m normally the one who has to carry it downstairs while trying not to gag from the smell. But my boss, in order to save me the trip, put the bucket on a shelf so that I could take it down in the morning after it had hardened – so as not to risk spilling it since I was such a cross-eyed mess that evening.
Instead of taking the bucket off the shelf to pour some remaining grease into it I brought my pan up to it to empty. Big mistake. With the biggest crash I’ve ever heard in my life, the huge bucket slid off the shelf hitting the shelf beneath it and turning in the air spilling rancid grease all over our huge fifteen foot kitchen stove and bouncing on the floor splattering grease over two different stations.
The kitchen fell silent.
I saw the three executive chefs stop what they were doing and turn my direction with eyes as big as saucers in wonderment. All the new stagiers and apprentices looked over and I could tell were fearfull for what my punishment would be.
I looked at my boss and silently begged for him to get me out of this one before the executive chefs assigned me some ungodly task.
Chef: “Ah Amy, tu es vraiment dans la lune ce soir. Tu as besoin bien dormir. Nettoyer et go ‘ome!”
(Ah Amy, you are really in the moon tonight. You need good sleep. Clean and go home.)
Ahhhhh….To sleep perchance to dream……