The Y-files [GL]
Belgium is very proud of its beers and customers in bars are very particular to see them poured right. Every beer has its own glass and its own way to be poured. Bars will have many different types of glasses. Even if both beers are a pils beer, customer like to see the right brand name on their glass. Getting a pitcher and glasses for everyone like they do in the States or Scandinavia is really unthinkable here.
Duvel (dialect for devil) is a very strong beer (8%) and is served almost everywhere.
People often start drinking it during matches of our national soccer team because we call the team “De rode duivels” or “De rooi duvels” in dialect, meaning The red devils.
When ordering a Duvel, many bars will let you pour it yourself because it is easy to screw up. Of course they will claim that it is because everyone has their own personal preference in how it should be poured. When I worked part time in a bar during my college days I often had to hear the same joke over and over again when I had to serve it: “Den drank is den duvel? Niee, den duvel is den drank.” (Translated: Drink is the devil? No, the devil is the drink)
The test I had Tory do, is one I had to do myself when looking for a part-time job back in college. This is how you solve it: How to pour a duvel .
Interlude 9: Mari Nade and Tory Yaki
Today I had more to do than just thoroughly clean the brasserie. I had to take several job interviews for the position of kitchen help and for a temp job as a waitress.
We had been without waitresses for a while now and even though mom never complained I could see she was getting more and more fatigued. She was doing the job of several people on top of the brasserie's administration after all. If this would continue for much longer she would fall ill and I wanted to avoid that scenario at all cost.
Even though in the kitchen I could handle a lot by myself, Claire had been saving us way too often lately. I know she enjoys working in the kitchen, but she is still a high school girl, and high school girls should go out with friends and have fun. She should not be bearing the burden of having to fill in gaps in the roster of the brasserie.
The interviews had been going on for a while now and even though I really had hoped today's candidates were gonna be worth my time, the whole day had been a mess and nobody really stood out as people I wanted to work with. Only two candidates remained.
The first one was applying for the job of sous-chef. Ms Mari Nade. She was a tanned blue haired beauty with very deep dark eyes. I had rarely seen such a pretty girl in real life.
Her resume stated that she had worked before in the kitchen of Fruits de mer, a fish restaurant. I knew one of the employees there and had given him a call. Apparently the owner got rather touchy feely with the younger girls on staff and she had quit in a rage.
Well no worries about that happening here. Even if I would want to, Mom would disembowel me if I ever tried anything like that with one of the employees. If she worked well and passed my test she would get a trial and then it was up to mom to decide if she got a permanent position.
So after exchanging the necessary basic introductions and a few general questions I took her to the kitchen.
“OK, to prove you have the necessary skills I have a little test for you.”
“Not this again, I'm not doing anything dirty to get a job!”
I got a coughing fit. “What are you saying? I want you to cook for me. Who is talking about anything dirty!?”
“Oh. I just assumed. It was like that everywhere else I went after I left Fruits de mer.”
Why do all the women I ever meet have to be so troublesome? While doing my best to regain a worthy composure I just went on like that did not just happen. “You can use any ingredients you can find, but everything you need should be in this station. I want you to bake me an 'omelette nature'.”
Now, many consider an omelet a basic and easy dish. But in reality a perfect omelet is really hard if you have not practiced it. It should not get burned, and it should not be dry but also at the same time not too wet. It should have solidified the exact right amount. It was also an excellent show of a cook's abilities, as they were forced to use the same ingredients everyone uses to prepare the dish. Not many cooks are able to pass this test.
She started by mixing 3 eggs and a little splash of milk and added salt and pepper. So far so good. Now came the hard part. If she put the stove on a big fire, she would not have the job. A low fire is the trick to a good omelet. But she surprised me and indeed put on the lowest possible fire and added butter in the pan to let it slowly melt.
Then she started baking the omelet.
A short while later I was served a perfect omelet. I was really surprised so I exclaimed: “This is perfection! You pass!”
I hired Mari on the spot. I asked her if she could stay a little while until after my next interview. I explained to her I was the boss in the kitchen but my mom was the owner and would be her real boss. So if she waited she could meet her after my next interview.
She looked a mix of happy, relieved and proud of my praises. It always feels good when I'm able to put a smile on a girl's face and it had been a while since I did that with anyone other than mom or sis.
Next up was Tory Yaki. A half American half Japanese girl. She had dark hair and she looked a bit small and frail to be a waitress but the second I saw her moving I noticed she was actually rather well trained. Looks can be deceiving. She was looking for a part time job to help pay her bills while she was studying piano at the conservatoire de Bruxelles. She could help fill out for the evening shifts and on weekends. I had a little chat with her in which I switched between Dutch and French to see if she would be able to understand all of our customers. I was impressed she passed that test so well. Especially the Dutch one as it is considered a very hard language to learn.
We had a piano in the back so I asked if she was willing to play from time to time for the customers and she was actually thankful for me to provide that opportunity.
After seeing how happy she looked with that, I hoped she was actually good, because it would be really hard to take that back. I was a sucker for girls looking at me with expecting eyes.
To test her I brought her over to the bar and asked her to serve me a Duvel. Duvel is a strong blond bottled beer for which you need some know-how to get the collar right when serving. It is found on the menu of almost every bar or tavern in Belgium.
I was expecting a failure, because she did not look like someone that had ever drunk or served a Duvel but 10 seconds later I was presented with a Duvel with a perfect collar starting from the half of the Duvel brand name to a small centimeter under the edge of the glass. She had also left a bit in the bottle to avoid the sediment getting into the glass. She knew her stuff alright.
I told her that for all I cared, she got the job and that I would introduce her to my mother, the owner that would be her direct colleague and boss. I showed her to the table where Mari was sitting and introduced them to one another. I brought them both a cup of tea and put the plate of éclairs Claire made on the table.
“My sister made those, I hope you'll enjoy them, I will get my mother in the meantime.”
I saw Mari and Tory dig in and heard moans coming from their mouths claiming this to be the best pastry they had ever tasted. “Nice work sis!” I said to myself, this way they were put in their place in the kitchen without me needing to show off.
I went to the apartment to get mom. I was sure she would be happy that I had finally found a few new employees.