Thursday, December 30, 2010


I am in Luxembourg with my parents and brother. I'm reading a bunch of Kindle books on the plane, train, at night in the hotel.

One thing about the Kindle is very annoying. When you press on the directional knob, if your finger twitches at all (so that the motion is not straight down), your Kindle will delete the book instead of opening it. I've accidentally removed two books in the past day. There is no way to retrieve them until I return to the US, because the Amazon wireless doesn't extend to Europe for my device.

Anyhow, I just finished "Kitchen Confidential". Stephen King said once that people love reading about other people's jobs. It's so true. This entire book is an autobiographical account of a chef's career. My brother commented that he previously thought being a line cook would be fun, until he read this book. It takes a lot of strength to lift 100-pound cuts of meat or masses of dough. Also you need to be time-sensitive so that the sauce is created at just the same time as the meat and side dishes, so that nothing gets cold. Plus everyone's food needs to arrive at once, so it's a mastermind synchronization operation. On top of that, the chef needs to be creative at combining ingredients to taste good, plus he needs to be a strong people manager who can soothe egos, recruit cooks, and fire delinquents.

Next I'm going to read "Complications" about how surgeons are fallible humans, who start out scared to press down the scalpel on actual skin. The book opens with a frightening story about the author as a hospital resident, struggling to perform a heart operation for the first time. He forgets important instruments, his hand slips when he's putting a wire into the patient's artery, and he keeps poking the clavicle when he means to slip the tube under it. I was flinching every couple of paragraphs.

The top Facebook games also center around taking up a profession: Restaurant City, Farmville. Someone should write Surgeon Room as a game.

If you know of any other books that eloquently speak about an interesting profession, send me the recommendation!


ArC said...

In the same vein as those books, then, Michael Ruhlman's "Making of a Chef", "Soul of a Chef", and "Reach of a Chef" (all about [mostly] restaurant chefs) and "Walk on Water" (about pediatric heart surgeons). I like all his culinary books, but the subject matter of "Walk on Water" was too intense for me.

Piaw Na said...

Consider "We might as well win":

KindleNovice said...

Wait - kindle deletes books without a confirmation?!! Thats terrible UI design!

I just got my dad a 3G kindle for use while travelling, and he intends to use it in Europe -- I'm surprised that your kindle doesnt work in europe - is it because its an older one (or not 3g??), or should i be worried that my dad will not be able to use the 3g feature while travelling?!!

Please let me know - i gotta warn him! said...

you mentioned stephen king. have you read his book "on writing"? it's definitely worth reading.

Linda said...

You can sync your Kindle books on your device from laptop if you or your brother brought laptop on the trip.

John said...

You should upgrade your Kindle with Wi-Fi. I just finished my first book on my Kindle.

I forgot if you ever read or blogged about Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip -- Confessions of a Cynical Waiter. I quite enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure I originally heard about the blog that spawned this book from your blog so this may be old news, but Blood, Sweat and Tea is excellent (and free!).