May 25, 2011

Training Time

It’s not unusual to live in this house and in this community and not ever perform a particular chore. Take me, for example. 

Welding all my stays since 2006 together, I have lived here nearly two years, and yet I have never prepared the oatmeal that is served at the Fourth Street Bridge twice a week. It is this oatmeal, as well as the coffee, that the authorities say is illegal to give to the homeless and must be discontinued.

So Sarah, who has lived here for about a year, and who is leaving to return home to Canada in a week, told me to meet her in the house kitchen at 6:15 a.m. for my training. At 6:15, Sarah was nowhere to be found. I put the time to decent use with a cup of coffee and a cursory look over the sports section of the newspaper.

When Sarah finally wandered downstairs at 6:30, I had learned my most valuable lesson: I don’t need to get up at 6:15 to do this job. I can sleep an extra fifteen minutes.

After employing three people to search and locate the proper scoop, Sarah dumped six heaping scoops of rolled oats in a 15-gallon pot already filled with boiling water (an earlier riser turned on the burner). Then she instructed me to toss in two large handfuls of raisons before she threw in large dashes of cinnamon as well as margarine and a smaller dash of salt.

When she put the salt in, another hippie in the kitchen said he never made the oatmeal with salt, and so a little discussion ensued about which way is better, with or without salt. Sarah appeared to have won the discussion by saying that salt is one of those ingredients that tingles the body and makes it feel good.

Since the vast majority of homeless folks in downtown L.A. are single men, they are referred to as “the guys.” So when I tell you that the guys downtown raved about the oatmeal, as they often do, you understand what I mean.

And now that I have been trained in how to make a vat of oatmeal, you understand there may be an expectation I make the meal sometime in the near future.

This is Part 9 of the city's effort to criminalize feeding the homeless in Skid Row. Here's Part 10.



well, so you're working your way up the culinary chain, so to speak! good for you! and i know that those many people you all feed will be more than grateful -

oh, and just fyi - i always put a bit of brown sugar in the oatmeal i made for my children - and always a bit of butter! just fyi!!!

Wine and Words said...

I like my oatmeal steel cut (granola that I am) with brown sugar and cream! Yummo. Takes forever though. The steel cut oats take 45 minutes to cook under constant supervision. Sometimes I make my life so much harder than it has to be, but once you go steel, you can never go plain oatmeal.

Brian Miller said...

nice...think you can handle that? kinda neat reading about the little textures of life in the community..would like to hear more..valuable lesson that too...

Claudia said...

i LOVE oat flakes - more - i can't live without oat flakes..and i'm 100% serious...i can be in the most sophisticated hotels around the planet and they can have platters of delicious food on the breakfast buffet.. i will search for the oat flakes...ha...and a dash of salt is fine...smiles
great to hear you've been trained ed - and wonder how this all is going to develop

M Pax said...

I haven't had oatmeal in a long time. Mmmm. Sounds like quite the skill to make it so well in a vat.

Deidra said...

You're a chef! How cool! And Sarah's words about salt? Now that will preach! "Tingles the body and makes it feel good." I'll be thinking about that for awhile!

Su-sieee! Mac said...

6:15 a.m. You're definitely committed. :-)