I wake to the smell of day-old garlic and onions. My eyes open to find my left hand resting millimeters from my nostril. This scent has become my constant companion these last 12 weeks. I can’t seem to expunge this disagreeable odor from my fingers. I have flashes of Lady MacBeth – ‘Out damn spot!’ I know the trick with stainless steel, but do not practice this technique daily. Still lying in bed, I examine my fingers and nails more closely. Dark grime is imbedded under each nail. Repeated hand washing and scrubbing with a brush fails to eliminate the residue entirely. I’m perplexed regarding the cause. Could food or spices truly be that tenacious? These are not my white, idle hands of three months ago. These hands have suffered the rigors of culinary school. Glossy nails don’t adorn my fingertips. Sanitary concerns demand short, short nails with no polish. My hands are marred by burns and cuts, wounds collected during my daily battles with hot pots and sharp knifes. My cuticles are red, cracked and jagged from endless hand washing. Lotion and manicures are paltry redress for the damage I inflict. These hands are chef’s hands and have become the casualties of my culinary aspirations.