Definition: Mis-en-place

I learned a new term awhile back.  It is a cooking term, but I find it applies to all of life - at least for me, it does.  Genius is a feat of association.  ::big Barney Fife sniff::

The term is mis-en-place.  It's French, and pronounced MEEZ-ahn-plahs.  It means "everything in its place beforehand".  Before you cook - you first shop, gather your ingredients, chop and dice and measure and sift and make sure you have all tools you need...

...all before beginning to cook.  It's the work before the work. 

See, if there is one thing I have learned in my life, one idea, other than the fathomless grace of God, that has given me profound insight, it is this:  there's the work before the work, then there's the work, then there's the work after the work.  Every single job you do, large or small, involves these three phases.  In order to truly attain excellence, you have to take all three into consideration and planning.  And if you want to rock  this thing called "life"...learn to love (or at least have a platonic relationship with) all three phases of the work.  Each part of a project, big or small - the before, the during, and the after - has its charm, if you have a vivid imagination.

So many people I know will, for example, wash clothes, but the clothes don't get put away, or don't get ironed.  In other words, they may be clean, but they are not "wear ready".  (I've done it.  When I point a finger, three more are pointing back at me.  I accept this.)  Or folks may wash their clothes, but don't go in beforehand and sort them properly.  (Ahem.  Yeah.  Me, too.)

In my world, a meal is not complete until the sinks are cleared.  And in my world, I do not like to begin to cook unless sinks and surfaces are clean and ready, and ingredients on hand.  This isn't to say I never have a cluttered kitchen or full sinks, I do.  Often enough.  But it never feels right or normal to me.  And it shouldn't.  Who wants to live that way?  Unless there are very mitigating circumstances?  Which brings me back to the first question:  who wants to live that way?

My husband has always called mis-en-place "approach to task".  I prefer mis-en-place because it's French.  Anything French has to be way better - even their superiority complex is better than ours.

"Going along to get along" rates lower and lower on my happiness scale, the older I get.  In fact, going along to get along brings a whole lot of unnecessary stress.  I love me some mis-en-place.  I love approaching each new day, or approaching my work, whatever that may be, with tranquility and a sense of having been prepared.  Which means whatever the last thing it was I worked on?  It needs to be completely finished and all tools put back in place for the next time I need to pull them out.   This pretty much implies that all of life is spent preparing for the work, then doing the work, then tying up the loose ends after the work.

Work is life. 

"Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy ________ "  (that blank gets filled with the word "WORK")

I just spent a couple of hours in my closet today, doing mis-en-place.  I can't consider myself done until the linen pants get their fastener sewed back on, and the cuffs of my brown trousers get cleaned (what is all that, in there?  I am shaking my head over it...how do I manage it?) and the sleeves in a certain dress have to be altered.  Then, and only then, is the job done.  My wardrobe will be ready for what lies ahead of me this year - I will have done the mis-en-place.  Hopefully getting dressed, and dressed well, will be a no-brainer.

After I find me some white skinny jeans.  I shall tell The Preacher, "I'm not shopping.  I'm mis-en-place-ing."

Post a Comment