March 11th, 2003

children of dune - leto 1

variety is the spice of life

Stupid Cheese Tricks

Years and years ago, like many a human being, I worked in fast food.

In some ways, worst job ever, but in one very, very important way, a way that still makes me mildly nostalgic, it rocked.

Endless creativity with food prep. No, I don't mean spitting on the food. Lettuce, tomatoes, use of sharp objects to cut them--and I can STILL cut a tomato so fine you can almost read through it, a skill my boss never really appreciated. Something about the customer wanting to TASTE the tomato or some such nonsene. Pshaw, I say. But anyway.

There was the cheese thing.

Short version--you get these huge blocks of sliced cheese. The job, should you choose to accept it, is to restack the cheese for easier grabbing for the burgers in minimal time. The normal method is to turn every other piece sidewayish, so on, and that's how I learned it. Basically making an eight point star pattern, over and over and over. Very boring, or so you'd think.

But never underestimate a bored girl at two in the afternoon after the rush is over and thre's a brand new thingie of cheese.

At first, traditional way. But then spirals appealed to me, so I'd only angle abuot a quarter of an inch each time I laid down a slice. After a few weeks, I could make some very, very fine spirals and keep them at a sharp vertical, no sweat.

But no, that's not how it ended. There were eight blocks of cheese this one hot summre day, over a hundred slices per block. And I was Very Bored, Very Hot, and apparently, Not Very Well Supervised.

So I got creative.

Hence to the Cheese Arch Experiment.

Here's something you may not know about the average slice of cheese.

Now, it's fairly sticky. I could get the cheese to do a Tower of Pisa thing if I was very careful and had enough of a base to balance. Not for LONG, but well, I say if it stays stable ten seconds, you've got a masterpiece going there. Anyway, whilst experimenting with the equivalent of I think ten pounds of cheese, I wondered, can I make an arch by stacking cheese?

The answer is--yes.

Now again, cheese slices are STICKY, so this does actually work. So I started off with two pillars, angling them inside a little farther with each spiral until they almost met, then starting the top slices to make the upper arch. This took, I think, an hour fifty, whilst my coworkers mopped, swept, and organzied around my feet or took naps in the refrigerator (did I mention the air conditioning sucked? Which also helped the cheese slices stick). Anyway, I'm not exactly famous for having a real knowledge of what's going on around me, and I forgot this wasn't my personal home cheese project. Though it sort of scares me now that I want to try this again.

Anyway, there's a sudden flurry of activity from napping coworkers. Customers! Tons of them! Everywhere! So my boss yells for me to bring all the stacked cheese.

Okay, now here's another little fact about cheese slice arches. They don't really MOVE well, especially if you built them on wax paper on a metal counter. Becase a nice, solid counter is MUCH more stable than the cheese tray thing, and colder.

So I stare at it, trying to figure out how to move it, because damned if I was disassembling this feat of engineering architecture without a fight. My boss comes back, the better to discover what on EARTH I've been doing, and stares at the empty box of cheese and the glorious concoction on the counter.

Seriously. Double take there. I'd never actually seen him look like that before.

Well anyway, despite my protests in the name of art and culture, he took off the upper arch of my Cheese Arch and vanished with one of my pillars to fill an order. Dejected, I've never tried it again.

Damned customer nonsense.

Except when I met Children's Legos in a small family restaurant in Austin. Near the door. With my boyfriend, best friend, her brother, and another friend. Where the kids can play.

Seriously, legos ROCK for spirals, arches, and pretty things.

But I digress.

You know, oddly, I have no idea why I remembered this so vividly, except we just got a brand new package of cheese today, NOT the individually wrapped kind, but the sliced but in a block kind.

Now, should you choose to do your own Cheese Arch experiment, a few tips.

1.) No air conditioning. Sweating cheese is sticky cheese that won't try to collapse.

2.) Weight is everything. Do a good distribution, and the balance works. The Cheese Tower of Pisa, I theorize, COULD be pulled off and stay stable if the cheese is stacked just right. If anyone manages, do tell.

3.) Patience. Just because the cheese tips over the first time does not mean giving up. Or the eighth.

4.) American cheese all the way. Cheddar I just don't trust, do you?

5.) Wash hands frequently. The smell is appalling after a while. You keep thinking you'll be able to tune it out, but if you do not wash every few minutes, at the end, that smell will be on your hands for DAYS, no matter how many showers you take or what kind of brillo pad you have.

6.) Look BUSY so you don't get assigned prematurely to do something useful and productive, like mopping. Complain every so often so you sound like a disgrunted employee. Mumble, though, because saying you're cheese sculpture isn't working isn't what you want them boss to hear. The appearance of industry AND unhappiness is key here. Looking like you enjoy your job WILL get you reassigned. Hence the fact I lost my tomato privileges.

I still don't believe I sliced them too thin. Please.



Melt by bexless Oh dear GOD. Hot. And cold. *grins* *nudge* Trust me, you really want to read this RIGHT NOW.

Pass by Tim Ian. Huh. Now this I didn't expect, though I'm not entirely sure what I did expect when I started reading.



During the era of open discrimination, pale-skinned blacks would occasionally hide their ancestry and live as though they were white. This phenomenon was known as "passing." Those that passed felt this strategy to be their best chance at avoiding the bigotry and persecution inflicted upon their brethren.

It takes a certain kind of bravery to live as something you are not, just as it takes a different kind of bravery to be punished for who you are. Both choices exact a price.

Read this now. Extremely good, thoughtful, and different.

Okay, that covers it. Going to go try and remember new boring anecdotes to share.