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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cooking School and Culinary Classes

I am not a natural cook or baker. I have a few standard recipes (mostly taken from the meals my parents used to cook for me) and some that I have invented on my own. I do not know what spices go with what food or what sauce will make a certain dish taste awesome. I just don’t have that natural cooking instinct. Baking makes me anxious because I never know if it is going to turn out OK and the messiness of baking doesn’t work well with my obsessive compulsive tidy gene.
If anybody should take culinary classes it should be me. Show me exactly how to make something and show me that the end result will be tasty and then I will be able to reproduce it at home. Reading recipes from cookbooks or magazines doesn’t work for me because I am so sure that I will miss a vital step and then instead of making potato fritters I end up making extra warm mashed potato.
Cooking school is unfortunately not a cheap way of learning how to cook. I think you need to actually have a passion for cooking to attend an actual cooking school – you need to be one of those people that feels that cooking as an art, that it is a creative process. I find nothing creative about the process of cooking, my language might get quite creative when I mess it up, but other than that it is just one of those things I need to do in order to make my tummy happy. Cooking, for me, is purely an act which results in me and my family being fed.
I wish I could be a culinary genius and have an endless amount of recipes in my head at any given moment, but right now I can only think of these – potato bake, quiche, lasagne, grilled vegetables and cous cous, pasta with creamy mushroom sauce and braai food (yes, that does count). It is not a bad start, but I think that some culinary classes will definitely be beneficial.
I must admit that baking has become more enjoyable now that my daughter gets involved. Her happiness becomes my happiness and I tend to worry less about the flour and the eggs and the sugar and the baking powder spilling on the counter and the floor and on her clothes and the dishes that keep piling up and…OK, maybe those things still bother me…but I am trying to let go and rather just experience it through her eyes. Cooking school for kids would be a great idea; Kayla would love to go to culinary classes, I would love that too - she could teach me instead.
The Collins dictionary states that to cook is “to prepare food by the action of heat, as by boiling, baking, etc, or of food to become ready for eating through such a process.” If only it could be that easy, but alas, it involves ingredients, creativity, functional taste buds and most of all the ability to enjoy the task of cooking. What I have definitely learnt (in my 7 years of cooking for myself) is that an angry cook makes yucky food but a happy cook makes delicious food, no matter how mediocre it may be.




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