Club Politique by Che Tibby


Almighty I'm exhausted. Knackered. Fifteen days straight working as a dishpig is nothing but hard work. Luckily a fellow dishy who needs cash demanded to work Tuesday, so I have the night off. There's an outside chance I'm going to sit out by the mint garden and sink my new favourite beer, Boags Draught.

With a couple of mates over to help me out it should be a festival of the Darkness album (for old times sake, it was RockGods' album of last summer), and a great new find, Gossip (this summer's album, courtesy of the new housemates, the Canuks).

So, what's kept me going without all this fun I hear you ask? It's a little dish called the Mafiosa. Originally we invented it when the SARS epidemic was on, and labelled it the Anti-SARS. Natural evolution turned this into the Mafiosa, probably because it has 'an issue' with influenza, and you can see the sense of the original title if you check out the ingredients. As this dish is single-handedly responsible for keeping serious illness from the door for two winters, I thought I'd share it with you all.

In December. But there's no explaining some things. Maybe the vego’s can use it for Christmas dinner.

To begin, chop a heap of garlic, and I mean a heap. We're talking as much as you and your nearest and dearest can handle. Fry this very lightly with a little butter and olive oil. The butter helps to stop the garlic burning.

Next is the tricky bit, add pitted or whole olives to season. Don't add extra salt, use the olives themselves as a guide. Then add, chopped whole red chillis for pepper, shredded parsely to colour (too much will make the dish 'grassy'), and enough olive oil to sauce the pasta.

Finally, add well-cooked, but not over-cooked drained, fresh pasta. You can use dried pasta, but try not too. The focus of this dish is the pasta, the rest is just to flesh it out.

I cooked this dish for some mates in New Zealand, and added good feta and some artichoke hearts to make it more meaty, but it's not necessary.

Besides the Mafiosa, a good but ballsy dish, I've partaken in some good and some sublime food in kitchens over the years. There's something about a dishpig who puts his back into it and sweats like a bastard that inspires begrudging respect in even the most cold of chefs. That, and keeping them constantly supplied with clean plates and an endless supply of pans, will result in a font of chicken, rabbit pies, braised pork ribs and balsamic reduction, burnt caramel panacotta, home-made ice-cream, chargrilled tuna steaks, and calamari to varying degrees.

I tried an eight-week aged beef steak the other day. If you buy steak from the supermarket, stop. Get a butcher to age it for you on the bone, and pay the extra damn money.

The next thing to say is for you all to spare a thought for these people this Christmas. If you've never read Kitchen Confidential, do. It's not a bad fictionalisation of the grumpy, surly, alcoholic, drug-fucked, mad, and sometimes outright insane characters you'll encounter in any kitchen anywhere in the world.

And why? These places are hot. It was thirty-eight degrees outside the other day, and must have been at least fifty in the kitchen, hotter over the grill. Spare a tender thought for the dishpig, it's that hot and they're perched next a machine producing steam at eighty degrees, and work without breaks for four and five hour stretches, longer during the dinner rush (actually, also watch Dinner Rush).

Construction workers? Truckies? Fishermen?


The chefs I'm working with routinely work sixteen hour days for a pittance. I earn more than most of them, and the longest I've worked in the past two weeks is a ten hour stretch. No wonder they go troppo.

So while you're out there nibbling on croutons and bitching because your steak isn't well-done enough (munters), these guys and gals are sweating like hogs and swearing like nothing you have ever heard before. What was the moment I was first 'accepted' by my current kitchen? When I abused the entire kitchen, calling them a "fucking bunch of cunts" for pushing me too far one day.

And then, I made up little sea shanty using those exact words, dance and all. They loved it.

OK, so maybe don't spare a thought for your service workers, they are assholes after all. And to be honest, they hate punters and the public, which explains why they're not waiters or airline hosts.

Pesky social deviants.

I'd better end this on positive note that also reinforces my comments. I'm sure you all associate chefs with the wonderful Jamie Oliver, that prissy, speech impaired choir boy. After all, he is pretty and famous, great range of cook books etc.

One of the things my current boss wants to do is publish a cookbook, but has decided to steal the title from a mates catering company. Apparently, this guy exclusively catered to bands and their road-crews, which isn't the glamorous job it sounds, as you can tell by the title.

And the name of this cookbook that will speak what he really thinks to the world, and sell a million copies in hard-back?

"Shit food, for cunts"