06 Jan Mid Course Musings
The first week here has been nothing less than unexpectedly amazing! Well amazing is pretty obvious right, following my dream, charting my own course, cooking exotic things, learning the historical French techniques from the best chefs in the industry, etc, etc. But why unexpected you ask?
My expectations of Paris and culinary school were very dreamy, that I’d relax and enjoy some cooking here and there but mainly chill in the Parisian air. Obviously that never materialized thanks to the grueling hours that ensued, not to mention all the butchery I was absolutely unprepared for, and the chopping of my thumb (did I mention this? Oh yes,trying to save a chicken toe cost me my thumb nail within the very first week!). All this REALLY drained me out by the end of the first week. And to top this, the unfortunate events of 13/11 left the entire nation in shock leading to heightened security everywhere and a sense of fear in all our hearts. my folks back home were panicking and just wanted me to leave it all and return! Let’s just say that the 15 minute walk to the school and back late at night, after a whole day of nonstop back-breaking work was not fun at all.
But quitting was never an option. In spite of the pain, what stood out was how MUCH I had learnt in just 6 days and how no matter what happened, everyone at school including me, persevered and carried on with enthusiasm to accomplish what they were there for. This remarkable strength of “mind over matter” made me feel more alive than ever. Nonstop classes meant skipping lunch and nibbling here and there for 14 hours. But we didn’t stop -, hunger, pain, sleep deprivation were not barriers when we were at school. We survived on the hunger to learn and cook! Hence, the ‘unexpected’ amazing first week.
Hair in an untidy bun? No problem
Nails look like Neanderthals’? No problem
In spite of multiple showers the smell of food never left your hair, skin, nails, clothes? No problem
Stomach adjusting to the weirdest eating/nibbling patterns? No problem
Julienne of leeks not fine enough? That’s it, Heartbreak
Turning of vegetables still a challenge? Life sucks
Chef’s review at the end of a practical ‘OK’ instead of tres bien? Depression
And then the thrill of hearing a bien and appreciation in our chef’s eyes? Jump for joy
The cuisine course is a third more intensive than the pastry course here. While we have 30 demonstrations and 30 practicals, pastry course only has 20. Hence our lives are a bit tougher compared to Pastry students.
The next two weeks at school were intense and by now I had learnt to get used to the routine! Wake up, shower, brisk walk to school (to beat the cold), change, demo, practical, demo, practical, change, brisk walk back home, shower, sleep, repeat. As mundane as it sounds, it was the best routine I have followed. The excitement of ‘what are we cooking today?’ ‘Which dessert is part of the demo menu today?’ ‘Oh the patisserie students are leaving behind their orange crumble and opera cakes at the winter garden, yayyyy!’ was infectious and each of us loved and looked forward to it every day.
The experience has been pretty phenomenal so far and I can’t wait to share the highlights of my second and third week at school pursuing Basic Cuisine Course. Will rack my brain and try to summarize in bite-sized portions for you soon!