Say it a few times. “Peas on Moss”…. “Peas on Moss”… And then say the French phrase “Mise en Place”, rhyming it with “Peas on Moss”.
That’s how I remember a phrase that I try to keep close to heart when I cook. LIterally, it means “to put in place”, a cooking technique that calls for all of the ingredients to be washed, cut, measured, and placed around the food preparation area, along with necessary tools and condiments, before any cooking starts. I have commented that I’m by nature a messy cook. Or I think it’s “by nature” as if I claimed it was “by nurture” I’d be blaming my mother, and I am not wanting to do that. She’s a much better cook, and neater cook, than I am. I seem to cook by the “why use just one bowl when two or three will do?” school of cooking. I try hard now not to make a mess, but it’s hard work. And yes, it really does work better to follow the “mise en place” method.
I was interested to read that Anthony Bourdain, a celebrity chef, considers “mise en place” a religion for him … “The universe is in order when your station is set up the way you like it: you know where to find everything with your eyes closed, everything you need during the course of the shift is at the ready at arm’s reach, your defenses are deployed. If you let your mise-en-place run down, get dirty and disorganized, you’ll quickly find yourself spinning in place and calling for backup. I worked with a chef who used to step behind the line to a dirty cook’s station in the middle of a rush to explain why the offending cook was falling behind. He’d press his palm down on the cutting board, which was littered with peppercorns, spattered sauce, bits of parsley, bread crumbs and the usual flotsam and jetsam that accumulates quickly on a station if not constantly wiped away with a moist side towel. “You see this?” he’d inquire, raising his palm so that the cook could see the bits of dirt and scraps sticking to his chef’s palm. “That’s what the inside of your head looks like now.” — Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential
Don’t even try to think about what the inside of my head looks like often times when I’m cooking. I’m trying… to keep things “in their place”. Hard work. But I think it pays well if you can get it!!!