The Journey of the Sliver of Finger-Skin

Queso, Queso, Queso is the most popular restaurant in town, but even more so on Thursday nights. The Thursday special is none other than a unique Duck Quesadilla. Its simplicity is its perfection: duck meat, salsa, and Queso, Queso, Queso’s special mix of cheeses, cooked to perfection in a buttery, house-made tortilla. It is the highlight of every diner’s Thursday.

Queso, Queso, Queso’s house cheese blend is a highly guarded secret. The cooks use only the best cheeses—cheddar, mozzarella, Monterey jack, pepper jack, parmesan, gouda—and mix them together with proportions that only they know. What makes the good cheese blend great, however, is that the cheeses all come directly from Happy Cow Cheesery.

Happy Cow Cheesery produces only blocks of cheese. But because a quesadilla can only be made with shredded cheese, not in large blocks, a cheese grater is needed at the restaurant. And because Queso, Queso, Queso prides itself in serving the best, hand-made, quesadillas around, the restaurant has in its employment a professional cheese grater to grate the cheeses.

On the most fateful Thursday night in the restaurant’s history, the cheese grater was mentally preoccupied. He had just recently been fired from his previous job, a chef’s assistant position at a five-star restaurant, because he could not keep up with the rest of the kitchen staff. Queso, Queso, Queso had picked him up a week ago, and he did not want to make the same mistakes that he had at his previous place of employment. He thought about his errors constantly, including this fateful night, often trying to come up with different ways he could pick up his pace and be a more efficient worker. With this position, he knew that to be efficient, he had to grate the cheese as quickly as possible.

As he shredded the cheese that night, vigorously moving the cold, spongy block back and forth over the sharp metal holes, the block shredded away into the bowl beneath the grater. Because the man was so concerned about grating the cheese as quickly as he could, he did not notice how close his fingertips had come to the grater, and as he pulled the cheese down for another stroke, his right middle finger slipped through the grates. A sliver of finger-skin fell into the bowl of cheese.

The man winced, but did not make a scene. Glancing down at his finger, he saw only a tiny dot of blood—nothing too terrible, not something to worry about. He knew Thursdays were the busiest nights at Queso, Queso, Queso. His task in grating the cheese was an essential part in the quesadilla-making process—the quesadillas could not be made if he did not grate the cheese. He couldn’t hold up that process. If he did, he would most certainly be fired from this position as well, and having just recently been fired, he did not want to take that risk. He wrapped his finger in a napkin, covering the miniscule spot of red, and finished grating the cheese—not thinking to take out the sliver of finger-skin. It sat content in the bowl amongst the slivers of cheese.

Once the block had been completely grated, the professional cheese grater carried the bowl of cheese with the sliver of finger-skin buried within to the Creation Station across the kitchen. The Creation Station was used to hold all of the quesadilla ingredients: cheese, salsa, lettuce, tomato, beans, meat, et cetera, et cetera. Once the cheese section had been refilled, the Quesadilla Creator at the Creation Station slid a tortilla onto the bar in front of her and began piling the ingredients onto it to make the Thursday special: salsa, duck, and, of course, cheese. The Quesadilla Creator continued to create these quesadillas until, upon making another Thursday special, she scooped up a handful of cheese and plopped it down onto a tortilla. She did not notice the sliver of finger-skin hiding amongst the slivers of cheese—it was much too small to be noticed by anyone who wasn’t looking for it, and even then it might have been too small.

The Quesadilla Creator slid the tortilla-with-toppings over to the Quesadilla Cook at the end of the Creation Station. The Quesadilla Cook slid her spatula underneath one half of the buttery tortilla, pinched the other side of the tortilla between her finger and thumb, and then lifted the tortilla-with-toppings into the air, bringing it over to the Cook Nook. She placed the tortilla-with-toppings onto the buttered grill in the Cook Nook and it began to sizzle. The cheeses began to melt around the sliver of finger-skin, giving it a warm, oozy hug amongst the yellowy goo. The space around the sliver of finger-skin suddenly darkened as the Quesadilla Cook flopped a new tortilla on top of the tortilla-with-toppings. The melted cheeses stuck to the top tortilla and the sliver of finger-skin was securely stuck inside the Duck and Finger-Skin Quesadilla. The Quesadilla Cook then flipped the quesadilla over, the greasy grill of the Cook Nook searing the other side of the newly formed quesadilla.

Once the Duck and Finger-Skin Quesadilla was finished cooking, the Quesadilla Cook scooped it up with his spatula, this time no longer fearing the ingredients spilling since they were stuck in the cheesy goop, and plated it on an orange plate—not too wide, not too small, but just perfectly sized to fit the quesadilla. She then moved the plate over to another Creation Station where another Quesadilla Creator scooped on one dollop each of sour cream and guacamole, about the size of a golf ball. To bring the dish to perfection, the new Quesadilla Creator gently placed a wiry piece of parsley on top of the two dollops as garnish. The Duck and Finger-Skin Quesadilla was now complete. It appeared to be the most perfect Thursday special that Queso, Queso, Queso had ever created.

However, no one knew about the secret sliver of finger-skin hiding under the cover of the top tortilla.

Having completed the dish, the Quesadilla Creator placed the plate on the Quesadilla Counter under one of the heat lamps that kept the food in tip-top shape while it waited for a Quesadilla Carrier to come pick it up. The sliver of finger-skin waited in the cheesy goo, the warmth of the heat lamps spreading its flavor throughout the quesadilla, until a Quesadilla Carrier, one of many in the restaurant, picked up the plate and brought it to a table where a very important diner anxiously awaited her duck-flavored dinner.

The plate with the Duck and Finger-Skin Quesadilla was set before an older woman with burgundy hair twisted into a bun. Her bird’s beak nose and mouth, permanently in a frown, did not move while her narrow eyes followed the plate from the rough hands of the Quesadilla Carrier to the tablecloth in front of her. She was a food critic, and a very particular one at that. She ran one of the most esteemed food blogs in the country—thousands and thousands of tech-savvy foodies visited the site each week. It was her task—her duty—to inform the people of the food world of the very best in the business.

However, she had never written a positive review. There was always something wrong with each dish she ate—whether it was presentation of the dish, atmosphere of the restaurant, sub-par staff service, or, worst of all, poor taste—and she thought tonight would be no different. It never was.

She had never eaten at Queso, Queso, Queso before, but had chosen to dine that Thursday evening because of the rave reviews she kept seeing about their special—a duck quesadilla. What an odd dish to make. An odd dish to even think up!

The Quesadilla Carrier fled as soon as the dish was set before the critic, for he knew exactly who she was and what she was there to do. He did not want to be mentioned on her blog because it certainly would not be a kind review. She examined the quesadilla, drawing in her face as close to the dish as possible, wafting the scent up her nostrils with her delicately manicured left hand. It smelled wondrous, but she knew better than to set high expectations. She would most certainly be let down.

She did not know about the sliver of finger-skin that hid amongst the melted cheeses.

After she had thoroughly smelled the Duck and Finger-Skin Quesadilla and was certain that she could describe exactly how the dish smelled, she unraveled a fork and knife from her nearby cloth napkin roll (Queso, Queso, Queso did not provide utensils in such a fancy package, but rather, the critic brought her own set with her wherever she went) and began to cut the quesadilla. She sectioned off a small triangular piece at the end of the quesadilla with her knife, knowing full well that her method was not normally how others ate quesadillas but also knowing the civilized way to eat anything was with utensils such as her own, and plunged her custom, three-pronged fork into the buttery center of the piece, cheese oozing out of its sides like lava bubbling out of a volcano.

From the back of the kitchen, the professional cheese grater quickly peeked out into the dining area to see the food critic sitting alone. He knew exactly who she was and what she was there to do, and he suddenly realized that he had never taken the sliver of finger-skin out of the bowl of cheese. Even though he had no idea into which dish it could have gone, he had a strong feeling that the sliver of finger-skin had ended up in her Duck Quesadilla. He looked back down at his work, pretending not to have noticed the critic and pretending to hide his guilt that he was sure was apparent on his sweaty, red face.

The sliver of finger-skin, while small, had spread its flavor to the entire dish. The critic, without knowing this fact, brought the triangular piece of Duck and Finger-Skin Quesadilla to her lips and chomped down on it with her pristine, white teeth.

What many did not know about her, however, was that she had a history with cannibalism. She loved the flavor human meat brought to a dish. It had been years since she had last tasted human flesh and no longer ate other humans, but the love of the taste was still there.

The sweet (to the critic) flavors of human skin danced with her taste buds, and she was so delighted to find a good dish that she hurriedly ate the rest of the quesadilla without using her custom silverware set, opting instead to muddle her manicured hands with the buttery meal. It had been so long since the last time she feasted on human flesh that she had forgotten that the flavor she currently tasted was the flavor of human flesh. In her euphoria, she could not remember the previous dish from which this taste came, thinking it was a socially acceptable one that she had critiqued rather than one made with the flesh of other humans from her dark, dark past. She knew this Duck and Finger-Skin Quesadilla tasted better than any dish she had ever tasted.

When she was finished, the Duck and Finger-Skin Quesadilla happily resting in her stomach, she burped aloud and giggled. Nothing had ever tasted this splendid. Packing up her utensils and leaving a check with a very generous tip included on the table, she rushed out of Queso, Queso, Queso and straight to her home to start writing her review.

She gave the dish five stars. It was the most positive review that she had ever given a restaurant.

And thus, the power of a sliver of finger-skin changed the course of Queso, Queso, Queso’s history forever.

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