Irish kitchens

  The Malt House

  A two-day job in Galway Ireland

September 2001 —

I worked for a couple of days in Galway at a restaurant called the Malt House.

Two weeks before, I had missed the bus to Kilkenny, where I had wanted to go to ask about work — so I went to Galway instead. Why Kilkenny, I hadn't known anyway, and I wanted to get out of Dublin. Dublin is frenetic and expensive. I didn't like my job nor my apartment.

I stayed in Galway for about a week, leaving on September 11....

In Galway, I'd spoken with Brendan, the head chef of the Malt House. He'd suggested I contact him after a couple of weeks. The prospect was not the most appealing of anything I'd seen, but it was the most promising. Then, two weeks later, I quit my Dublin job, packed up, and went to Galway. Ten minutes off the bus, Brendan hired me to begin working immediately.

The young guy who was training me at the Malt House was discreet but clearly relieved that he would soon be leaving. "Usually you don't know how they want it done until you do it wrong," he said.... "You'll get used to it...." I had my doubts about that.

In the middle of the lunch hour on the second day the chef said to me "Don't make any more salads" (side salads, in small bowls).... There were four of them left. A few minutes later, he called for four salads and now there were none. Of course this was unacceptable.

I was working split shifts, 10 AM to 3 PM and 5 to 10:30 PM, not sleeping well. I stayed for two days and it seemed like three.

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* I've learned since this Galway day about the tradition of workday tea-time. It consists, in any particularity, of a time to stop working and have a cup.

Many kitchens will be unable or unwilling to accommodate such a tradition — but the pertinent knowledge is that a cup of tea or coffee is associated with a period of the day in which the work pauses.

In this context, it must have appeared cheeky of me to brew coffee straightaway.

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