Wednesday, January 25, 2012


If you Can’t Stand the Heat

Life is all too often a recipe for chaos
with unpredictable steps emerging
from an obscuring murk, forcing you
to fly by the seat of your pants-
to continually compensate off the cuff.

Perhaps this is why, at the most hectic of these times
I crave the kitchen like a starving man.

It is there that I can undoubtedly carve out
a bastion of meticulous order,
a place where well laid plans
very rarely go awry- unlike life.

Laying out each ingredient is catharsis
as I run the courses through my brain
and with the aid of fine, German steel
fabricate garlic, onion and herbs,
peeled and minced into tidy piles at first
then arrayed within pristine bowls
like order incarnate upon my counter.

Several skillets heat, the oven warms
as my marinade’s acidity tenderizes the meat
and in intricate, layered increments
the meal begins to take shape.

Sautee, proof, broil and bake,
stock simmers for the sauce,
roux browns to finish it off,
custard sets in its water bath,
a final whip emulsifies the vinaigrette,
skirt steak hits the pan to sear.

I dance through this routine
without fear of calamity-

a heart attack won’t kill my entrée,
the birth of this meal won’t be met with a medical bill,
I will not have to rush a fallen soufflé
to the hospital for stitches,
the crème brulee won’t be fired
and evicted from its ramekin
or subsequently cause its marriage
of flavors to dissolve.

In the kitchen I am in control,
king, ruler-of-all, dictator if need be.

I am intimately aware of the variables
and can vastly influence the chance disaster.
In life I am left no recourse
but to chant this simple mantra,
and never could I say it enough:


order up

-Jeremy O'Neal

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