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Monstruo por la plancha

Eugenia called me "monstruo por la plancha" — a monster on the grill.

We had a six-foot-by-four-foot (2-by-1.5-meter) flattop grill over gas jets fueled by bombonas (the butane gas canisters ubiquitous in an old city unserved by gas pipelines) — as well as four burners far side, two microwaves back of the shop, a gassen broiler over toward the dining area, two deep-fryers to the right of the service window, and a cold table to their left.

My specialty, as Eugenia said, was the grill.

During the short time that I was working at Mex Rock, it was one of only a few jobs where I've felt extremely alive, where the process was electric, and where the adrenaline flowed in a spastic burst of energy that sustained... doing multiple tasks at the same time; working beyond the capacity of my mind to comprehend what all I was doing. Hard to describe. The mind opens, because it has no capacity to be shut, and the vulnerability to error is what you have to float upon; but you're moving so fast that you don't sink. It's gratifying, and a reason that food service can be addictive.

This carry-on at Mex Rock, to my particular delight, was all in the Spanish language. I'm rather proud of that, because I didn't speak Spanish when I went to Seville. I believe that in the incredible, short, love-hate time that I had at el restaurante, I exposed my mind to a great bit of information about how to speak and learn Spanish.

And I slung, flipped, and delivered the hot Mexican entrées with a skill that I consider one of my best kitchen performances, happy for that short time to be able to work with in such manic, relaxed confidence.

Eugenia concurred; I was good at it — however briefly.

  • I worked at Mex Rock in the Spring of 2001, and lived in Seville from December 2000 until June of 2001.