Category Archives: Restaurants and Kitchens

On starting the KitchenGringa blog

In September of 2011 my husband and I unexpectedly had the opportunity to be the owner/operators of a Mexican restaurant in a small town in North Georgia. Within a few weeks he had resigned from his job and we had placed our house for rent and moved ourselves and our children to a brand new place for a new adventure. And what an adventure it was, for 14 months we put everything we had, and then some, into turning the restaurant around and getting the numbers to turn black. We weren’t able to do it. The restaurant is now closed with sad brown paper covering the windows, but neither of us regret the experience. It was an amazing journey that taught us so much, not just about food and hospitality, but about ourselves, our neighbors, and human nature. But I do regret that I didn’t write about it all as it was happening. Even the events that seem to be unforgettable as they occur fade with time as life continues to throw us new trials and triumphs. As we start yet another completely different chapter of our life I would like to do a better job of recording it. And I hope that as I do so I will also find that I am able to further process and sort out the experiences that brought us this point and share them as well.

There is a place near the end of the book of Luke that I keep coming back to. After the Lord’s Supper and before the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus predicted Peter’s denial. He said, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32 NIV) Peter’s failure that night is completely different from my own failures and I have no delusiones of changing the world by blogging about what its like to be an American woman working in restaurant kitchens dominated by Mexican men. But I do feel like I know what it feels like to be sifted and realize that you are nothing but a pile of dust, and as I try to turn back I would love to be able to have the chance to even in the smallest way strengthen my brothers and sisters.

La Licenciada Lavatrastes or the Degreed Dishwasher

I have always seemed to be a person drawn to extremes. I like to see how far I can push things. I don’t want to do things halfway and I don’t want to be bored or worse, seem boring. My family might even go so far as to call me a bit melodramatic. I don’t know that I want to claim that trait but I must admit that it gives me a strange kind of pleasure to tell people that I, an almost 40 white American woman with a college degree, am working as a dishwasher at a Mexican restaurant. There is more to it than simple shock value, and I really don’t think its just about making people uncomfortable. I am sure to post many more musings on why this is my job of choice at the moment, and a lot of them may make sense due all sorts of different factors, but a simple explanation is I like high contrast. I like being different. I like being the only woman and the only American. And even though it can be extremely humbling there is something very interesting in being an “educated” person struggling to learn a job that seems to have been so easily mastered by many who didn’t have the chance to finish elementary school. I like what I am learning about myself, what I am capable of doing, and learning about the people around me. And I think it about to get even more interesting as I have actually resigned from my dishwasher job at one Mexican restaurant to take both a slightly higher level kitchen job at a different Mexican restaurant AND a dishwasher/prep job at a big nice corporate chain restaurant. There are sure to be juxtapositions galore awaiting me. Despite knowing it will not add a single hour to my life I am full of worries about both these new jobs. But even though I can expect long hours of repeating similar tasks I do not expect to be bored. I believe I am on embarking on an interesting and enlightening adventure, one that will make me a more well-rounded and empathetic person, and also provide interesting antedotes to share along the way.