mise en place (or, get it together, Audrey)

August 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

This whole thing started, appropriately enough, rummaging through my purse.

You see, there’s this one pocket in there where virtually everything disappears:  receipts, business cards, checks-yet-to-be-deposited, rubber bands, bleeding pens, chiclets, quarters, little pieces of candy bar wrappers and gift certificates.

“Oh, look!  I’ve got one for Borders…”

Where, 45 minutes later, I’d picked up 101 Things I Learned in Culinary School, a collaboration between Louis Eguaras and Matthew Frederick.  Highly recommend.  This is just one in a series of similar books where someone who knows whats what about something shares it with idiots who only know how to keep their purse messy.

Inevitably, the process of mise en place was highlighted.  For those of you who have emerged from or are still in the trenches of a restaurant kitchen I’ll keep it quick for those who don’t know:  “The Mise” (which we always called it) is the process of putting all the items the chef needs at a given station in the place that he or she likes it, the ultimate goal being to execute freshly prepared dishes in as little time as possible.

So I got to thinking…

I do this with photography.  Before heading out to a wedding I arrange the camera bag just-so, film in the outside pockets, back up lens easily accessible, extra batteries tucked away neatly somewhere indiscreet if needed.  And photography is just about one of the only things I truly create well, not to be a sad sap, just when compared to all the rest of the things I make a mess doing.

So why can’t I try to mise my life, then, too?

Truth be told, I’m a mess that just luckily happens to present very well.  My home boasts a family of towers made not just of paper, but binders, oddly-sized books and boxes to add the thrill of danger every time we walk by.  There is almost always an experiment in the back of the fridge made of 10-week old lemonade which comes off like I’m trying to start my own rare microscopic species library.  Most unnerving, every morning when I attempt to dress myself from the mountain of clothes that gives sage advice to me to help me go about my day is just pathetic.  I just pick up what’s on top, sniff it, and off I go.

I know how Wembley feels

So there it is!  Therapy in the form of public humiliation.  They say that works to correct the problem if you’re anal expletive (happily, my favorite term from Pysch 101) like me.  No poo jokes.  Keep checking back daily (or weekly, depending on how much of this I can handle) for tips, lessons learned, things that just won’t work, funny pictures, general sarcasm and maybe, if we’re lucky, some tidbit of information you can use to transform your sty of a life, too.


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