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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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variety is the spice of life
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
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.

*****

Recs

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.

Excerpt:

Clark,

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.


jenn, i am in awe of you.

For some reason now, that commerical about The Power of Cheese is on repeat in my head.

*grins*

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.

Hee. You do make me laugh.

-Beth

*grins*

Never underestimate the sheer power of pure boredom.

I comfort myself with memories of how MUCH I learned at that job. Some of this will have to come in handy later in life. Not yet, but--someday.

Oh yes. Someday.

(grin) Thanks, I needed that. Leaning tower of cheeza. Heh. LOL. I'm just picturing the expression on your boss's face. Skimming the till? Spitting on the food? These are employee problems he understands. The need to build leaning towers of cheese? Not so much.
So far, it has been one of those days (details on my LJ). I like funny cheese stories though!
Reminds me a little of the time I made a giant snozzcumber out of angelfood cake and green frosting. Actually, there were about 8 angel food cakes involved. My fifth grade class was very appreciative.
-Silverkyst

Reminds me a little of the time I made a giant snozzcumber out of angelfood cake and green frosting. Actually, there were about 8 angel food cakes involved.

Snozzcumber?

See, I read that first as 'cucumber', mentioning eight angle food cakes and thought, whoa, that must have been a thing of art.

What's a snozzcumber? *g* Do tell.

I really wanted to comment about the cheese towers. But then I realized that I have nothing to say. It is just the image.
*Note to self: Do not eat or drink beverages when reading anything by Jenn.

*sighs* I wish I had pictures. So. Damn. Cool. Seriously so.

*waves merrily*

Thanks for the rec, Jenn. I appreciate it. :)

It's an excellent, excellent story. I'm glad you posted it.

loved the idea of cheese architecture - am now tempted to go out and buy large quantities to experiment myself. *g*


Re: fun with cheese!

Oh, totaly worth it! In retrospect, I think I might only have stumbled on teh very edge of the possiblities in inherent in creativity with cheese slices.

And have a neighborhood grilled cheese sandwich grill-of after!

ditto. it's amazing what two competitive people in charge of restocking the prep can do in the haze of late night.

Re: LOL Cheese indeed!

Ooh. Now that's not very fair to tease and not follow through! Tell tell tell!

My god, Jenn. That's a thing of beauty.

*wistful*

Makes me all nostalgic for my days working in fast food.

In your hands, it goes beyond stupid cheese tricks and becomes les tricks du frommage idiotiques* and could have gotten you out of fast food and into a yuppie deli with pretentions.

* pretentious yuppie franglish mangling, so don't ding me

Ooh. Yuppi Deli. I could totally have tried out some multi-cheese-type-sculptures. And sliced meats! Who KNOWS what possiblities are inherent in twenty pounds of ham? Who, I ask you?

God, I'm mourning my lost opportunity here.

Though I'm not sure deli-sliced ham is sticky enough.

*ponders*

*huge grin*

You're just jealous that you don't have any Stupid Cheese Tricks.

Er.

My les tricks du frommage idiotiques.

Man, that does sound cool. Thanks vyola!

*sticks tongue out at Pearl-o*

LOL! Cheese arches. I needed that laugh really, really badly. You are so incredibly cool with your, er, cheesy stories. *g*

*grins*

Creativity with food products is a highly underrated activity.

This has to be the funniest thing I've read in AGES. Thanks, Jenn! If I get out of my call-center job and into a a job at a fast food place (out of the frying pan, into the fire--so to speak) then I'll have much fun until I have to find a NEW job. *laughs again*

*huge grin*

I like to think every job has its perks, no matter how difficult those perks may be to find.

Ziggurat of Bel Paese, I mean Marduk

Oh my god, I have so been there! Except it was a pizza shop, but tomayto tomarto, right? As long as it's thinly sliced. Even down to the napping in the fridge! And sometimes, when I really felt about an inch from death by asphyxiation, I'd go meditate in the walk-in freezer. (We had no a/c at all.) I don't know about towers of deli ham, but you can certainly build pyramids from *pizza* ham, it's just as sticky as the cheese in hot weather, and doesn't smell much better.

What a brilliant post, you've rescued an otherwise heinous day. And isn't it true, whatever lofty career heights we may have risen to, we *all* worked in fast food once. Or at the super-market. In my case, both.

Re: Ziggurat of Bel Paese, I mean Marduk

but you can certainly build pyramids from *pizza* ham, it's just as sticky as the cheese in hot weather, and doesn't smell much better.

Pizza ham works? *enchanted* Oh WOW. You know, there should be a website for this--One Thousand and One Things To Do At Your Fast Food Job When You're Bored. Or something.

Whole revolution in food art there. *grins*

Now I want to see how pizza ham would work!

My God, I'm scaring myself.

What a brilliant post, you've rescued an otherwise heinous day. And isn't it true, whatever lofty career heights we may have risen to, we *all* worked in fast food once. Or at the super-market. In my case, both.

*giggles* So damn true.

Hee. Pizza ham!

This has brought a very happy smile to my face and I giggle as I imagine what my current boss would make of your Cheese Arch.

Many years ago I worked at a Shipley's Donuts. The boss was an Italian version of Ricky Ricardo but the asst manager was much more fun and Sunday afternoons were dead as doornails and he'd take the leftover donut dough and make all kinds of things, animals, butterflies, for our amusement.

And there is no such thing as too thin when it comes to tomato slices!