Per your instructions
I am getting under this chicken’s skin
with pats of compound butter,
stowing the remaining herb twigs,
onion, lemon, in the body’s dark cavity,
cutting slits where the neck
used to be, trussing it
with its own legs, carnal,
Tonight is the dinner party,
the only cohesive theme
this newfound religion of decadence,
oh we went in for truffle oil (yeah I know)
triple crème cheese,
the fattiest pork bits.
Still in the industry back then,
the back of the house shows up first,
plus the one cool barista,
these two pastry chefs
that claim they’re not a thing
(they have a pretty sweet kid now)
the bread baker and his wine
then some French girls I met after
my long sad tour of their country,
his lushest of lobster rolls,
his roomate I am seeing, I don’t know why,
I wanted him.
Back then I was better with the mise,
more precise with my cuts,
each big new thing still
shiny with potential,
although after a bottle or four
I did almost take my thumb off,
wielding the breadknife like a scimitar,
the blood merlot,
everyone pausing to assess, admire,
my date looking ill, it didn’t work out.
Why birds, why roast anything
in a brick apartment in mid July?
Youthful exuberance, we leave nothing
behind but crumbs and bones,
dirty dishes in drawers,
Tolouse and Albi drunk in the kitchen
picking the duck carcasses clean.
The baker gets really trashed,
and prior to passing out on the couch
he empties his pocket’s contents
on to the coffee table
in profound demonstration of something
he can’t coherently explain,
each paltry coin laid out in a gleaming constellation.
Our stations are fixed, are waiting for us,
we’ll both search for composure
in the walk-in tomorrow,
I’ll take out butter to soften,
tuck rag into apron, begin again,
sweet, umami, salty, sour,
and the hard one, bitter–
I’ll supreme citrus to avoid the pith,
mince garlic, sauté it, burn it, toss it,
too young, too impatient, running it too hot,
eventually, I just get the hell out.
These days I throw chicken thighs
in a pan, no recipe, you taught me well:
make the onions sweat,
the rendered skin release,
build the fond, deglaze,
coax more from less,
and I know better now
just how things compound,
for better and for worse.
RIP Bourdain. It was a damn good bird.