Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Do You "Meez"?

Chef Anthony Bourdain says it is the only way to cook whether in your home or a restaurant kitchen.  He's talking about the French phrase "mis en scene" (putting in order) which is shortened in professional kitchens to "meez."  He means that your work surface is clean, that your ingredients are measured and laid out in order of use along with the proper tools - knife, tongs, etc.

In a restaurant kitchen speed is necessary; at home, not so much.  Richie does a meez; I rarely do  because I already know that while this is doing that, I'll be cutting vegetables because I've got the time to do it then.  With a new recipe I would make sure I have all of the ingredients or if it's something I don't like, I have a replacement ready to use instead.  That's about the extent of my meez.

"Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook - Strategies, Recipes and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking"   Bloomsbury   304 pages   $34.95

The reader is taken backstage at Les Halles, the then-hot New York restaurant.  The book was published in 2004 so Les Halles may have cooled off a bit by now. 

Even if you don't make a single recipe in the book -- really old French classics such as Foie Gras Aux Pruneaux or Coquilles St. Jacque with Champagne or Blanquette de Veau - you should check it out for the introduction he wrote.  Some tidbits:

"I will assume that you know how to use a knife ... without being a danger to yourself or others."

"Almost everyone lacks any kind of formal training and entered the business as a dishwasher or night porter."

"Anyone who says 'cooking is in the blood' is talking out of their ass.  EATING well is in the blood."   I have to agree with that. 

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