I am not a bright ray of morning sunshine.
Even after eight hours of sleep unfettered by evening caffeine or smoke-alarm chirping, the first hour is not pretty. Obviously this is the perfect time to introduce knives, boiling water, splattery hot grease, or electric grinding appliances into the mix. It’s not pretty.
Other key fact: My routine demands I adhere to the following mantra: “Out the door at 8:04.” With keys, wallet emptied of all cash (vending machines), fully charged celly, Coffee Mug, ziploc bag full of tea, separate ziplo bac full of ice, fruit, and extra pair of socks. And, most obviously, lunch. I’m “Still Alive at 8:05,” but if I push it much farther… consequences can be profound.
My bakery is called “Sticky.”
You’ll find this establishment in a transitional neighborhood of a large American City. The location takes advantage of ample foot traffic and a dense, modestly diverse cluster of nearby housing. A well-regarded university is no more than four (but no fewer than two– F*$#ing Hipsters) miles away. Inside, framed photographs of distressed Italianate architecture dot the exposed-brick walls, and an area behind the display counter painted a bright, earthy blue.
There is plenty of seating- members of the creative class take advantage of the free wi-fi to do Very Important Things on their laptop computers. Grumpy old men from the neighborhood hunch over the large table in the corner and play chess all afternoon, bathed in the lazy sunlight streaming through the ancient bay windows. The dining area smells vaguely of coffee, wheat, and lemon.
And, inside the display cases, the baked goods will stop you cold. Brownies the size of wallets, pitch-black from the too-expensive French cocoa I stubbornly insist upon, much to the chagrin of my accountant. Cupcake frosting colored by a madman and applied by a bomb-diffuser-brain-surgeon-architect who freebases Adderall. Ciabatta that’s still slightly sandy from the floured towel used it to hoist it into the steamy oven. Muffins that look like muffins, replete with tops and perfect blueberry distribution. Chocolate chip cookies that are ever-slightly pale. Cinnamon sticky buns that singe your nose hairs before coating your soul in gently frosted goo.
And exactly one cake.
So you’d think after four decades I might at least have the basics figured out. What pocket to keep my keys in, where the umbrella should go, having a consistent wake-up time or remembering not to touch my face after I slice hot peppers - stuff like that. For such a creature of routine as I am, it feels simultaneously hilarious and crippling that I can never ease my way into one. Instead, most of the time, I go through life feeling like my shirt is on inside out and backwards.
Oxford shirt, and, yes. I’ve done that.
Even in the kitchen, that one space in my world where the rules seem clear and I feel safe within a radius of my instincts – I go through weeks when I find myself feeling clumsy and error-prone. Not that I expect perfection from myself, but, again, I’m at the point where a stir-fry or a roast chicken or a loaf of bread shouldn’t present many technical difficulties.
It’s more like a feeling that certain things I prepare frequently really should taste a LOT better than I’m willing to candidly admit. And maybe it was time for a couple of tweaks. . And sometimes, luckily, I can even get things right.