the dead salmon’s murderer
April 25, 2015 - single portrait
there is nothing around the amargosa opera house & hotel in death valley junction but a handfull of abandoned buildings, a mine or gravel plant that doesn’t seem to be running and the amargosa cafe. it offers free breakfast (toast & coffee) for hotel guests. if you are tired of granola bars and apples, which is my normal diet on road trips, this is the only place for finding help. chester was the chef in charge. he is 28 and a rather shy and calm character. he doesn’t talk much. i first saw chester begind the service hatch with a huge toque on his hat. there is no doubt that this hat was the only thing that made him a chef. i ordered salmon, veggies and baked potato with salad. it lastetd quite a while until michael, his brother (i will tell his story in a later post), served the dish accompanied with apologies. the first time the salad was topped with cream dressing and i had to criticize, because i am lactose intolerant. michael was inconsolable. the next time the salad looked fine. but, i tell you, i’ve never had a salmon before that was deader than this. chester must have driven over the poor fish with his dodge ram, dried it in the desert sun for at least a month and then baked it for hours in a damn hot oven, before he threw it carelessly on my dish and advised michael to make an extra cute and sunny face to prevent me from throwing bombs into the kitchen. i tell you, it was the worst dish i ever had. the salmon was virtually fossil, the potato hot but raw inside (i have no idea how he managed that), the veggies were pickled, old and bland, so was the salad. i needed lots of water, cursed the alcohol licence agency, who banned beer from this place, and was close to choke.
but anyway, i was hungry and i have been in the empty plate club forever. i didn’t say anything, thanked and payed but didn’t leave. i was late for dinner and all other guests were gone already. so i started to talk with michael and when chester had finished cleaning the kitchen he came out and joined us. we didn’t talk about his cooking skills but how life was going. i couldn’t believe that the guys were brothers: very different in personality and look but they appeared very close and intimate. both live in nevada, come over across the california border for work every day. chester from time to time even met marta becket, who lives in a small house behind the hotel and carefully avoids guests and customers. she is legend.
i took a bunch of pictures of both young men, each alone and together. both gave me their nicest and most honest smile. and even though i am pretty sure chester’s plan was to poison me to death in the first place we departed in peace and friendship.