Saturday, July 15, 2006

Reflections on my last day of class (for now)

Last day of the preserving class series. Chef Gabe told us today that over the course of the class we made 38 different things. Wow! Ranging from pancetta and bacon and ham to mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, and foie gras and confit. A very strange thing happened today. When we went around the room to talk about what our favorite part of the class was, I got all teary-eyed. Felt pretty silly about that, but not really embarassed. It was honest emotion. This has been in many ways a life-changing experience for me. I feel more comfortable with knowing what I do know, and not knowing what I don't. And it has confirmed how much passion I have for cooking. Maybe I'm also sad for the years (and maybe career) lost when I didn't know that this was where my passion and skills were. Ah, but better late than never. As I said when I started the class, I felt kind of like an outsider. But by today I didn't. At least I felt comfortable talking about what I might do with certain ingredients without being afraid that Chef would think I was an idiot -- in fact, I was able to talk that way without the little voice in the back of my head telling me to shut up. That's when I knew that my confidence has expanded. Today's agenda was fresh sausages. I got to work with caul fat today, something I've always wanted to do (It's funny how many things in this class dealt specifically with things I've always wanted to learn more about: foie gras, caul fat, terrines, cured meats...). Anyway, the caul fat went around some very lean greek lamb sausage. They were just plain great. All the sausages were great. So the meal today was a buffet of most everything we made. Scary huge table of food. I was so tired I really couldn't eat a plate of food, but I did sample most all of the sausages. Including trying the blood sausage, another of those things that I really really didn't want to eat. So that list goes like: blood sausage, gizzard confit, sweetbreads, raw foie gras. Not bad to get past all of those taboos for me. Can't say I liked everything but at least I tried! Our cured sausages were yummy, and cooking the collards with the cured pork shank was quite great. The Camembert got kind of funky, and the rind got very bitter. But it looked kind of neat. I won't be posting for a while, since I'm off to join Dave in Florida for a week. Gotta go eat grouper and amberjack, and try to forget the refrigerator trauma :)

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