Week 3- World- Middle East

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I've been pretty stressed lately with the amount of work that I've needed to get done for all my classes. When I feel stressed or out of control, I organize. In this case, I organize my schoolwork. It's kind of odd that I feel compelled to do this, because in reality all it does is add to my workload. I've felt a little rushed and out of control in World because things are so hectic. I especially felt that way because last week 2 of the girls did not complete all their dishes. If they don't finish, we don't get complete points as a group. Obviously, I hate that. I figured if I went ahead and split up the menu between the four people in the group in a way that everyone had about the same workload, made complete ingredient and mise en place lists for everyone for their dishes, and made a list of what should be done in what order so that everything would get done, I may feel a little better about the whole thing. I thought that even if the people in the group didn't want to do it that way, I could at least take one set of the four and have MY ingredients, mise en place, and timeline, and everyone else could split up the remaining dishes among themselves and do their own thing.

I have this ingrained fear of being considered "lazy." I don't know where it comes from and why I fear it so much. Because of this fear, I have found that I tend to overcompensate and swing too far in the other direction. So much so that it sometimes frustrates the people around me. In my mind, I am helping. Let me lighten your workload so we can both relax later. Apparently people don't appreciate this as much as I would if someone were helping ME out in the same manner. As I was preparing the lists, I had the thought that maybe this was helping "too much." But then I thought, "If they don't want to do it my way, that's fine, they can still divide the dishes up among themselves and no harm is done." Yeah. Well. Not so much.

My group this week was made up of two of my friends and one guy I had never met before. One of my friends and the other guy were fine with the lists. I received a little ribbing for being so rediculously OCD, but they went with it. My other friend was not so easygoing about it. I kind of got flipped out on. "What the F*** is this??" was said about the lists. I said they could split things up how they wanted. I didn't mind. Then Chef went through with the class and made a timeline for ALL the dishes, and told us that this week she wanted us to completely work together as a team instead of taking individual dishes to complete. Ok. So my lists were out the window anyways. At least I have them to show I did the work. So we began at the top and began passing out the first duties and said as you completed something, just check it off the list and initial next to the next task you were going to be working on. There was a miscommunication because the first item was "dough" and there were TWO doughs. So I was taking a dough and my one friend was taking a dough. The next two items were left to my other friend and the guy. My other friend didn't understand at first that there were two doughs and in the end kind of flipped out. "God, you're SO ANNOYING!" "I can tell you are frustrated. What can I do to help you feel better?" "Just stop f***ing talking to me."

Now, if this was some random person, or even the other friend, I would have been able to just let it roll off my back. I mean, who cares? The other friend is a jerk all the time and that's just how it is. I'm a jerk right back, and I know we don't mean it. This friend, though...it hurt my feelings. I walked away under the pretense of getting our sanitation bucket and cutting boards and used the opportunity to wipe away tears and take some deep breaths. When I was more composed, I headed back to the table, and didn't talk to the friend. Later the friend started talking to me as if nothing had happened. At this point I have a choice. I can either let it go and act like nothing happened and avoid confrontation but risk letting the friend think it's ok to treat me that way, or I can not let it go and confront her by saying that it isn't ok to act like that. There is also option C: the passive agressive route. "I love you, Heather." "Oh yeah? That surprises me." "What? Why?" "Because earlier it seemed like you didn't like me at all." "God. You're so SENSITIVE. Geez." Yeah. Ok. So it kind of got confronted but not really. I guess you get one semi-freebie, but after that I will stand up for myself. I'm writing this one off as a bad day, though.

Onto the cooking. This week was the Middle East. We made hummus, baba ghannouj, arabic flat bread, a fish omelet, spinach pies, cracked wheat and herb salad, lamb and okra casserole, rice and lentils, dried fruit compote, and arabic coffee.

Hummus is a pretty familiar item, I believe. Baba ghannouj may not be as familiar. In short, baba ghannouj is hummus made with eggplant instead of chickpeas (garbanzo beans). I was thrilled to discover this because up to this point, I had yet to discover a dish with eggplant that I actually enjoyed. The dish came out a little tart which my tablemates and I decided was probably a little too much lemon juice. Chef also said there was too much tahini in it, but I followed the recipe exactly. She even had me show her on the measuring cup what line I filled it to. I jokingly commented that I wasn't sure whether or not I should be offended. In any case, I, personally, didn't mind the tahini flavor, but did agree it was a little over on the lemon. Another reason we thought the flavor may have been more intense was that I may have lost more weight on the eggplant during roasting than I had anticipated which would make the other flavors stronger.I would also cut the seeds out of the eggplant before combining everything if I were to do it again, as I did not enjoy the texture of those in the final dish.

I prepared the khobz, or Arabic flatbread, as well. This was simple and tasty. I believe I will make this at home in the future for Harmony, because she loves tortillas and khobz is the same softness and size, but is whole wheat and contains none of the "bad stuff" if I make it at home fresh. We served this with the hummus (right) and baba ghannouj (left).

Natane created the lamb and okra casserole. I didn't mind the taste of lamb in this dish. I was happy about that considering the huge FAIL that Marc and I had when trying to prepare lamb at home previously.

Rodrick prepared the rice and lentils.

Curtis prepared the spinach pies, which were absolutely delicious and I believe I am going to have to have those on my menu when I open a place of my own. Natane made the fish omelet. This was an interesting dish. It had a decent flavor and texture. I would not have thought to put fish in an omelet on my own, but was pleasantly surprised. I probably will not make this at home, but it was a good experience. I began the cracked wheat and herb salad and Curtis finished it up while I was finishing off the flatbread.

Rodrick prepared the Arabic coffee...which was NOT Arabic coffee which uses cardamom pods, but instant coffee instead. I found that kind of funny.

Rodrick also made the dried fruit compote which was quite tasty. We enjoyed it on the Arabic flat bread, too, even though that wasn't how it was instructed to be served.

Overall it was a decent week, at least as far as the food went. In the end my friend and I let things go, and managed to turn out good food. That's the most important thing. What adventures will be had next week?


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