Monday, January 28, 2008

Life not under, but slightly to one side of the Big Top

I know this blogging business should be an almost daily affair, but I've been so busy with the damn circus, plus preparing our other house for sale after over 2 years of remodelling that it has been virtually impossible to get this done. The following was started several weeks ago. The house is now finished and on the market so from now on I should have much more time to relate my misadventures with the Cirque, and more. And maybe even some more useful stuff about food and cooking which is what we're supposed to be about!

Friday the 25th was day one of my stint with the Circus. All of us temps were asked to gather at the main gate, 7:45 a.m. sharp to meet with Cynda, the kitchen manager. So we duly gathered in the rain. We were on time . Cynda wasn't. No matter, we were officially on the clock and getting paid for milling around. The fortunate thing for me is that I live a mile from the site and I walk to and from work each day. It's hardly a country stroll, with its carwash and run-down machine shops and busy intersections but I do pass a pleasantly grassy city park with handy toilets should the need arise, and, inexplicably wedged in with the baseball diamond and basketball court, 20, yes 20 horseshoe pits! When does this neighborhood ever attract enough dedicated horseshoe tossers to justify 20 horseshoe pits! Perhaps the city of San Jose hosts the World Horseshoe Championships each year and I just don't know about it.

Beyond the park the road bridges the Guadaloupe river, once a pristine salmon river, only now slowly recovering from years of pollution and neglect. In Summer the river is a pleasant meandering silver ribbon cutting through the canopy of green trees. Today it is a roiling brown turgid mess powering its way through banks of improbably green grass, studded with stark tree trunks, plastered with matted brown leaves and trash, witness to the height of the earlier flash flood, which left a quite considerable number of black and white plastic bags fluttering in the stiff January wind.

But the high point of this morning's walk was the view of our Eastern hills, capped with fresh snow, glimmering in the brief morning sunlight, a sight we are treated to only once or twice a year, before the clouds closed in and the rain, once again, began to pour.

The permanent Cirque du Soleil kitchen staff consists of Cynda, Nathan the head Chef, and Luann and Karine the other 2 chefs, none of them over 30 I would guess. Now regardless of the culinary skills and experience of the permanent staff, this influx of unfamiliar temporary kitchen staff in each new city requires 2 qualities above all others: a sense of humor, and the ability to put us all at our ease. If we are comfortable and relaxed in these new surroundings we are more likely to give of our best. Easy enough, right?

The 3 women have these qualities in abundance; Nathan does not. He tends to be humorless and patronising, occasionally downright insulting. The women work primarily the early shift, Nathan the later one. My shift spans the two. Needless to say, I enjoy the earlier part of my day more than the latter.

For the last 4 days we have been feeding only us local temps and the permanent travelling set-up crew, all hard hats and harnesses, about 100 in all. Today at lunch there was a sudden influx of young, athletic and attractive bodies: the artists were arriving. Let the Show begin!


Anonymous said...

I've sharpened my knives, after many years of simply polishing the edge on a steel. I mildly impress folks with the explanation of shelling boiled eggs. I need more cooking tips for the completely unskilled.
Meanwhile however it is good to see that you are back and congratulations on the latest career move. The tale of the walk to the Big Top was as ever a delight to read - you couldn't make it up! Could you?
The onion soup is still on my to do list so perhaps cooking tips can waite. Thanks.

dubaibilly said...

Hello mate, well, this Thursday is the day - athletico madrid away for the 2nd leg - it'd be nice to go through to the last 16!

So how is the big top going - the artists have just arrived... looking forward to the next installment - but with the artists there I guess that is pretty much flat out work now eh? I hope the thing with the guy disappears and that you manage to get a shift just with the nice ladies. I watched a TV programme on catering for the Cirque du Soleil a couple of months back - my god the food looked good, but you guys in the kitchen don't half work hard. Looking forward to hearing all about it.