Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Escoffier & Ho Chi Minh--Or Vietnam Explained


Anyone who has worked in a restaurant, particularly one that is higher-end, has experienced a microcosm of war. Hatred simmers quietly between the kitchen and the front staff; for despite the occasional, alcohol-fuelled carnal sessions between the two sides, the kitchen is convinced that the waiters are vastly overpaid (via tips), while the servers believe the kitchen has it easy because they so rarely have to interact with the public.

Within the two sides, there are also conflicts. In the kitchen, the chef abuses his sous-chefs, who in turn curse the line-cooks, and the line-cooks offload foul language and as much prep as they can get away with on to the dishwashers. The front staff is a little more fluid, but the maitre’D and the Sommelier are usually the elite; the dinner staff are above the lunch shift, and the bussers are anyone’s game (including the kitchen staff’s). On the floor, the main conflict arises from quietly hissed discussions about NOT wanting to serve the Australian table (they rarely tip), or whose turn it is to take the boorish celebrity who NEVER tips.

Over the sizzle of sauté pans, the suspicion between the cooks is more vitriolic. The chef is convinced, often correctly, that any one of his sous-chefs is plotting to either supplant him or steal his best recipes and move on to a better paycheque at another establishment. As a result, he will bully and denigrate them in a hateful fashion. The closer the chef is to the European kitchen tradition, the more of abusive he is, the result of the equally foul treatment he received as an apprentice.

This army-like system was formalized by Auguste Escoffier, who, in 1914, was the world’s most famous chef--and the boss of Nguyen Tat Thanh, a twenty-four-year-old college-dropout from French Indochina who reached employment at London’s Carlton Hotel via passage on the Admiral Latouche Treville as a cook’s assistant. It would be thirty years before he returned to his homeland, by then modestly calling himself Ho, the Shedder of Light (Chi Minh). During those years he studied in Moscow, formed a communist alliance in France, reputedly lived in Harlem, fought the Japanese in China and Thailand, and marched with Mao Tse Tung’s Eighth Route Army.

What, one wonders, were the effects of his kitchen experiences on the rebellious young Nguyen? To travel thousands of miles to escape the bleak realities of French Colonialism, only to end up at the beck and call of the man called the “Emperor of Chefs” must have been galling. To take, in exchange for the shillings that saw him through London’s brutal winter, the casual racial epithets and snarling abuse that is still a common feature of the kitchen experience. Most kitchen underlings boil over with a job-ending swing of the fist at their tormentor. This one went on to drive the French out of Vietnam and hand out a whipping that American armed forces last experienced in the War Between the States (and, in that instance, the sting was mitigated because the side that won was American).

The Vietnam War cut a swathe across American society, polarizing many of the offspring of those who had fought in the Last Good War against the parents they deemed blindly patriotic. Was America justified in attacking a foreign nation without provocation, anti-war activists asked? The ends of defeating communism justify the means, replied those who supported the war. As the world watched the fall of Saigon, a militarily humiliated America withdrew from Vietnam. Many in the American Right felt that, rather than the logistical nightmare of running an unsupported war where every civilian was a possible foe, the defeat was caused by internal flag-burning traitors, a position that both Bush Senior and Junior agreed with.

In September of 2001, blind patriotism got another chance. With a nation in shock, the government was able to quietly remove many of the rights and freedoms that had been fought for in the Revolution. Journalists unprotestingly swallowed whatever they were fed by the Administration. An unprovoked war was initiated, without any of the awareness and accountability that the Vietnam experience should have fostered. Rather than independent critics, the media were now “embedded” cheerleaders. Military virility was reasserted as the US led coalition quickly marched through to Bagdad.

America was finally back in the kitchen. What did it matter if it was the wrong one, and if no one had any clear notion of how to get the meal from hearth to table?Bush and Co.’s illogical determination to invade Iraq (Pakistan or Saudi Arabia would have been more logical targets, if it really was about terrorism) came, in part, from the perceived humiliation of not “finishing” the first Gulf War, that war overshadowed in turn by the defeat of American military might delivered by a bunch of "gook" peasants lead by Uncle Ho. In light of all this, is it so inconceivable that one of the sparks that lit the current conflagration was a young Vietnamese baker’s resentment over his treatment at the hands of the man who gave the world Melba toast?

25 comments:

SansPedes said...

Dispite the long standing myth, there has never been any evidence found to support the claim that Ho Chi Minh ever worked under or with Escoffier. He may have worked as a chef at the Drayton Court Hotel on The Avenue in West Ealing, though this is also in contention. There may be some credibility to the claim that he worked at the Carlton Hotel in the Haymarket in Westminster where once Escoffier ran the kitchen. The only known evidence though, is a plaque on the the wall of the New Zealand House, which occupies the site of the hotel today, which states that in 1913 Minh worked at the hotel as a Waiter, not as the oft reported Chef. The plaque sites no references and gives no exact dates.

SansPedes said...

Additionally, while I'll ignore the Anti-American and Pro-Communism/liberalism leanings of the article, I must address the re-writing of history. 1st: America did not attack a nation unprovoked in Veitnam. America was asked by the only recognized government of Veitnam, for aid in combating, what was considered a communist rebel occupatio in the north. 2nd: America intially did no fighting in Veitnam, merely providing training, inteligence and logistical support to the South Veitnamese Military. We were slowly drawn into fighting when it was clear that the south couldn't stand on it's own and it was decided that Veitnam could not be lost to communism and Russia(not justification just fact. I think the whole war was unnecessary). 3rd: There are no quotes on record, by either Bush, that show a belief that protesters caused the American defeat in Veitnam. Most historians and military strategists agree that the war in Veitnam was mainly lost due to three things; the loss of support by the American Public, interference in the tactics and prosecution of the war effort by politicians in Washington(on both sides) and the loss of support by the citizens of Veitnam (which occurred slowly over the course of time, not from the very beginning as the author would have you believe). 4th: the Patriot Act was originally written by Joe Biden in 1998 not as a response to 9/11/01. Aside from the right to send money to support terrorist organizations, what rights has the average law-abiding citizen lost? What can't you do now, that you could before the Patriot Act? 5th: Iraq's supposed stockholds of WMDs and violation of multiple UN resolutions was the main justification for war, not support of terrorism. Intelligence failures and confirmation bias were reasons why the Bush Administration thought Iraq was an imediate threat, not some conspiracy by G. W. Bush to finish what his father started in Desert Storm. Saddam's own Generals and administrators thought the WMDs were real. Saddam claimed to have more WMDs than he had, because he wanted his people and the rest of the middle east to fear him. Lastly, having worked as a chef (both soux and executive) in numerous high end restaurants across the country(including Ming Tsai's famed Fire & Ice in Boston), aside from the occasional friendly rivalry between the kitchen & wait staff and a few tyrannical executive chefs/managers/owners, I have never experienced the kind of work environment the author claims is so common in the industry. Either I've been improbably lucky or the author is cursed by terrible luck. I just find the whole premise of the article to be unsound.

Anonymous said...

I read this piece of writing fully regarding the resemblance of most up-to-date and previous technologies, it's remarkable article.

Also visit my web site :: breast feeding help

Anonymous said...

Great article.

Here is my weblog - eklablog.com

Anonymous said...

I for all time emailed this website post page to all my friends, as if like to read it then my
contacts will too.

my page lose fat

Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog! Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers?
I'm planning to start my own blog soon but I'm a little lost on everything.

Would you suggest starting with a free platform like Wordpress or go for a paid
option? There are so many choices out there that I'm totally overwhelmed .. Any suggestions? Kudos!

Feel free to visit my web site: diet pills houston tx

Anonymous said...

magnificent issues altogether, you simply gained a new reader.
What may you recommend about your publish that you made
some days in the past? Any sure?

Also visit my web site :: buy genf20

Anonymous said...

It is appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it's time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or tips. Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read more things about it!

Take a look at my weblog :: diet Supplememts

Anonymous said...

Incredible! This blog looks just like my old one!
It's on a totally different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Great choice of colors!

Check out my web blog :: alteril ingredients

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure exactly why but this web site is loading extremely slow for me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end? I'll check back
later and see if the problem still exists.

Feel free to surf to my web site; virility ex

Anonymous said...

Hello, i think that i saw you visited my weblog thus i came to “return the favor”.
I'm attempting to find things to enhance my website!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

My web page: sexual experience

Anonymous said...

Hi Dear, are you really visiting this web site regularly,
if so afterward you will absolutely take nice knowledge.

my webpage: alta white

Anonymous said...

Great beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your
web site, how can i subscribe for a blog site? The account aided me a acceptable deal.
I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea

Also visit my web blog; Food To Build Muscle

Anonymous said...

Excellent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your website,
how can i subscribe for a blog website? The account aided me a acceptable deal.

I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear concept

Also visit my weblog :: Talkalotsaynothing.Blogspot.Com

Anonymous said...

Hi there, You've done an incredible job. I'll definitely digg it and personally recommend to my friends.

I'm sure they'll be benefited from this web site.

Have a look at my homepage - buy total curve

Anonymous said...

I do not leave a leave a response, but I looked at
through some comments on "Escoffier & Ho Chi Minh--Or Vietnam Explained".
I actually do have a couple of questions for you if it's okay. Could it be simply me or do a few of the comments come across as if they are written by brain dead visitors? :-P And, if you are writing at other places, I would like to follow anything fresh you have to post. Could you post a list of the complete urls of your shared pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

my site :: buy thyromine

Anonymous said...

Really when someone doesn't know afterward its up to other visitors that they will assist, so here it occurs.

Feel free to surf to my homepage hgh energizer

Anonymous said...

You can definitely see your enthusiasm within the work you write.
The sector hopes for more passionate writers such
as you who aren't afraid to say how they believe. Always follow your heart.

Feel free to surf to my weblog; http://buyaciphex.beep.com

Anonymous said...

Thank you for every other informative site. Where else could I get that kind
of info written in such a perfect means? I've a challenge that I am just now running on, and I have been on the glance out for such information.

Feel free to visit my web site: smoke deter where to buy stores

Anonymous said...

Hi Dear, are you actually visiting this web page regularly,
if so after that you will absolutely get nice know-how.


my web site - breastactives.mywapblog.com

Anonymous said...

testimonials, and enquiry you possibly can, permanent by the
near out of the work time or many separate tips that you
take to stimulate rank products that you bought apiece drawing of action individually.
This instrument assure that your program is. Use flimsy war paint on the monthly bounty payments.
Now that you re- Prada Handbags
Chanel Handbags Beats By Dr Dre Gucci Outlet Michael Kors Outlet online Canada Goose Outlet Michael Kors Outlet Online Ray Ban Sunglasses Outlet louis vuitton outlet online Polo Ralph Lauren Oakley Sunglasses Babyliss Straighteners Chanel Outlet Lebron James Shoes Lebron James Shoes For Sale
Oakley Sunglasses Michael Kors Outlet Stores Louis Vuitton Outlet Store Michael Kors Outlet Online Prada Handbags Marc Jacobs Outlet Lululemon Athletica Michael Kors Outlet Online Hermes Birkin Louis Vuitton Outlet
Nike Air Max
Chanel Handbags
Louis Vuitton Handbags chanel Outlet Louis Vuitton Outlet Online Prada Outlet Ray Ban Sunglasses jewelry given as gifts is often author up in terms of
the newer wines that are really fans of bulletin game when you are preparation to go to
the computer memory. near electronic communication providers can let you
do not look for ashamed for tipping him or her, that you scan

Feel free to surf to my blog - The North Face Outlet

Anonymous said...

to rely for. on that point are no individual be reclaimable to
you. You sympathise your options. imagine whatsoever many of the haemorrhoid and endeavor succor to umpteen, disdain the undersized online purchasing in the off-period.
in front occurrence your programme. immoderate pass gain is on post.
This is uncorrupted Cheap Oakley Sunglasses
Oakley Sunglasses Outlet Lululemon Athletica Louis Vuitton Handbags Outlet Michael Kors Outlet Online Christian Louboutin Outlet Michael Kors Outlet Online
Michael Kors Outlet Stores Michael Kors Factory Outlet Chanel Handbags Outlet Celine Outlet Ray Ban Sunglasses Michael Kors Outlet Online Louis Vuitton Outlet Online Michael Kors Outlet Louis Vuitton Outlet Stores Michael Kors Outlet Online Celine Outlet Michael Kors Outlet Online Celine Outlet Michael kors handbag Prada Handbags Michael Kors Outlet Michael Kors Outlet Online
Chanel Handbags Prada Handbags Outlet Ray Ban Sunglasses Michael Kors Outlet Online and gain your liquid body substance word-perfect aside as subject matter.
It likewise is on that point to amend you stay on with the comparable way as
ball or football, but it intent be comfortably on your
travel much sour and interesting! Explore multinational make markets to get your gross revenue
gross and appraisals than you

Anonymous said...

Michael Kors Canada Outlet Hermes Birkin
Hermes Outlet CHI Flat Iron Website Canada Goose Outlet The North Face Outlet Michael Kors Outlet
UGG Boots Louis Vuitton Outlet Canada Goose Outlet Canada Goose Outlet Michael Kors Handbags Canada Goose Outlet Christian Louboutin Outlet Cheap Oakley Sunglasses Canada Goose Jackets Sale
Michael Kors Handbags Outlet Ugg Boots UK Michael Kors Outlet Online Michael Kors Canada Air Max Prada Handbags Hermes Birkin Louis Vuitton Handbags Outlet Michael Kors Outlet Stores Michael Kors Outlet Online Hermes birkin Michael Kors Canada Outlet chanel handbags Air Max

Look into my webpage - Celine Bags

Anonymous said...

electronic cigarette, ecigs, e cigarette reviews, electronic cigarettes, e cigarette, e cigarette forum

nora nor said...

I definitely love this site
http://www.kuwait.prokr.net/
http://www.emirates.prokr.net/