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The M Dash

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My Favorite Faux Pas: The Case of the Heavily Medicated Line Cook

June 08, 2015

In a past life, I worked as a line cook during the lunch rush at a high-end Manhattan restaurant. During the days, I’d sling pasta and lamb ragù, blanch baby vegetables, and dice onions; and at night, I’d come home and battle a mosquito. He’d taken up residence in my small apartment, and in the wee hours of the morning, his high-pitched, Doppler-like whine would wake me up. I’d bat blindly at the air with a rolled-up magazine, or flick on the lights and karate-chop my way out of bed. He always escaped.

paper&mosquito

One morning, I awoke to find my left eye swollen shut. He’d won, planting a huge bite on my delicate eyelid. I was still proving myself on the line at the restaurant, so instead of calling in sick, I half-blindly stumbled to the pharmacy, purchased a bottle of Benadryl (which Google had told me would calm the swelling), popped twice as much as recommended, and careened into work.

As I was setting up my station, it became abundantly clear that I’d taken a double dosage of a powerful sedative. I regarded my baby eggplant through a fisheye lens before hacking at it with my heavy knife. Turning on the burner was a herculean feat that required both hands. I thought I was fooling everyone, and went about my business, contemplating the beauty of romanesco florets as I blanched them. Eventually I looked up to see my sous-chef and fellow line cooks regarding me quizzically. Apparently, I’d been gazing at a particular floret for upwards of five minutes.

“Go home,” said my sous-chef. I did, and slept until dark, when the battle began again.

Illustrations by Mai-Dea


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Sophie Brickman is a food reporter and editor living in New York City. Her favorite food group is "sandwich," and she'll never turn down a gummy bear. Read more of Sophie's posts.


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