I finished reading <em>32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line</em> by Eric Ripert with Veronica Chambers. Though the entire memoir was enjoyable, the best chapter (21, Private Ripert) is about Ripert’s mandatory French military service when he was 22.
After basic weapons training, Ripert was assigned to the mess kitchen because of his cooking experience.
I was in shock. Meanwhile, the other cooks in the mess, who had been tasked with making spaghetti, had managed the unthinkable: they burned the spaghetti while it was cooking in the boiling water. Because they did not stir the spaghetti, or time it, the pasta stuck to the bottom of the kettle and burned. I had never seen–or smelled–anything like it in my life.
Afterwards, he talked to the colonel to get reassigned.
“You don’t want to be in the mess hall. Should I send you to the commandos?” He was being sarcastic, but it was lost on me.
“Sir, I can’t do the commandos.” Those were the guys who were being prepped to fight in the hot spots of the day, Chad and Lebanon. This, needless to say, terrified me. “Look at me!” I said, pointing at my skinny frame. “Do I look like a warrior? A top-secret killer?”
Also, best Joël Robuchon quote from Ripert’s time working with him at Jamin in Paris: “Why are you such a liar, Ripert? You with your fake terrines and your ghost sauce?”