Working Hands

Pretty hands don’t exist in the kitchen. There are no manicures. No pampered skin, nor painted nails. Instead there are calluses and burns. A half-moon- shaped cut that slices through the nail-bed to the quick requiring a trip to the Emergency Room and three stitches put in with strong black thread. Jergens would be appalled.

Kitchen hands bear the marks of the trade. They know their way around a knife, move from left to right down the board and down the line. They reach into hot pans and hot ovens, retrieving baguettes without fireproof protection, prodding cuts of meat to test for doneness. A medium rare steak should feel like the web of muscle between the thumb and forefinger. Or like your plump lower lip. Full and filled with appeal.

The Gathering Together Farm kitchen crew has hands that speak of their lives. JC’s ring shines on his left hand as he preps onions for filling, dices veg for roasting, takes apart a pig for charcuterie. Ricky’s hands tell of late night music gigs, endless hours holding a guitar, a banjo, a spatula. Ana’s are feminine, but strong. They bear the pinch marks of the Hobart mixer, and the burns from hot oil that she uses to cook fresh potato donuts. Ben’s are made to make pasta: deft fingers creating classic shapes to impart texture from the old countries.

Here, hands shape, and are shaped by, work.