For several years prior to my current job, I was a line cook in a Swiss restaurant. I had no formal training which is just the way the boss liked it – so he could mold me exactly as he wished (he had a tendency to not get along with real chefs). I learned a lot in those few years. I still make variations of many of the dishes, and this poem is inspired by a sauce that we made daily. It’s a Béchamel sauce, aka white sauce. It’s one of the most important sauces in French and Italian cuisine. Swiss cuisine has many regional influences including French, German, and Italian.
My Dear Béchamel
Set down my pot.
Butter block drop.
Gurgle and melt to a golden puddle.
Flour falls softly, whisk-whisk-whisk.
Light brown roux, bubbling so sweet.
Milk and cream join their friends flour and butter.
They all spin and play together
as whisk bosses them around.
Everyone gets warm from the exercise,
swirling in each others’ arms.
Getting hotter still,
whisk decides to take a rest.
His friends are so thick, he can’t take it anymore.
Finally, salt, pepper and
top-secret ingredient join the party.
Whisk gives it one final go around the crowd.
Everyone settles into rich, decadent harmony,
staring up at me for approval.
I dip my finger, let it linger,
then taste my creation – my dear Béchamel.