Under Fire: Learning in a trashy way

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Number 4627 in a series of things you don't learn in culinary school: handling trash bags. This lesson may seem of minimal importance, but it is not. If you put in more than five pounds of garbage and tie the bag too close to the top, it snaps and the trash falls into the can, giving you an extra ten minutes of work at the end of the night as you awkwardly struggle to get everything into the dumpster. 

The problem is this: You never think about putting in an extra trash bag until twelve hours later, when garbage juice is running down your arms.

And sadly, unless you have basic common sense (something I lack), you will keep making this mistake until you finally listen to some advice from a smart, frustrated dishwasher. 

The trash bags don't just provide an excellent view into the unglamorous side of kitchen life, they serve as a fantastic metaphor as well! Learning trash bags is like learning the transition between prep and service. People forget how difficult prep can be, how hectic and stressful a role it can play in a day.

In college you stare at a book or a slide and you remember that information. In the kitchen, you are always learning from those around you -- even if you don't realize it. So now that the trash bags stay taut in the can, does that mean I understand the flow of prep? That's where the metaphor ends: I still have plenty to learn.

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