the last few days at school we’ve been focusing on how to highlight specific flavors, what flavors will work together, what will not, and how to achieve complex combinations. we’ve spend a lot of time tasting ordinary ingredients, everything from chocolate to cinnamon to raw onions and bacon, trying to understand what makes up their flavor, and how it can be changed.
one assignment that i really enjoyed was making sauces. we used simple ingredients in different amounts to try and achieve something beyond a basic pasta sauce or spring roll sauce. it is really interesting to me how the twelve people in my class can be split into teams, and come up with such different versions of the same basic concept.
today we had our first assessment in the cold kitchen. we all were given a piece of pork tenderloin, two hours, any ingredients we wanted, except for lemon/lime, vinegar and salt/pepper, and the challenge of creating a dish that had awesome, dynamic flavor. it was kind of like the worst episode of chopped ever! lol. some really great, and some not so great dishes were presented. my favorites were the breaded, schnitzel-like dishes…way better, and completely different than what i made of corse! i made a spicy orange pork and leek stir-fry. i got a “very good” from the chef…we will see what that translates into grades wise.
the last kind of on-going project that we’re working on in class is lard sculptures! yes, exactly as it sounds. lard. we were given any material we wanted to build the structure…coat hangers, chicken wire, doweling, styrofoam…anything…and we had to some up with something to cover in lard. the whole concept is very bizarre at first, but just like anything else, the further you get into it, the more normal it becomes. my friend amanda and i wanted to do something that had a lot of movement so we decided on a squid-kracken creature. ive reached the point of normalcy in the statement “im making the kracken out of lard”.
not only has the lard sculpting portion of my day become normal, but also the whole culinary school experience, at least to this point. i’ve become comfortable in the environment, with the people, the uniform, the tools, and even the early mornings (which I have down to an exact science, lol). as soon as I started seriously considering going to culinary school, it made complete sense for the type of person and learner that I am, but it has only recently started to feel real, and like i fit there. It’s kinda exciting!