Ballymaloe Day 11 – Food for Thought

Today I redeemed myself in the kitchen after last Friday’s debacle. I wasn’t sure how it was going to go because I entered the kitchen today with an anxious feeling in my stomach – the exact same feeling I used to get when I had to go to court and argue a motion or do some other lawyerly task. On my list today was a white soda bread, a shepherd’s pie, and a sliced mango with lime syrup dessert. Everything went exactly as planned, and I think I’m starting to get the knack of thinking ahead to the next step in the overall game plan. It’s important to know when you’re doing one thing, whether it be chopping an onion, weighing out ingredients, or kneading some dough, what it is you are going to do next. That small mental trick really helped me to stay focused and kept me on task for the duration of the morning. As it turned out, my cooking partner was sick today and did not make it into the kitchen. This ended up working out in my favor, as I had double the amount of work space. I hope he feels better though for tomorrow, as it’s not as fun when you don’t have someone with whom to joke around. In the end, my instructor loved all of my dishes and gave me perfect scores on the tasting. Go me!

I also think the afternoon demo today was my favorite thus far. Rachel Allen (swoon!) made some incredibly tasty dishes including a Jerusalem artichoke soup with an avocado and hazelnut salsa. I actually could have just eaten the entire bowl of salsa on its own – it was that good (and I also have an obsessive predilection towards any dish involving avocados). She also demonstrated how to joint an entire chicken and made an incredibly tasty chocolate fudge pudding with crème fraîche. I will have to replicate that dessert tomorrow, so here’s hoping it comes out nearly a fraction as delicious as the one from demo.

After a quick outing to the local shops in the nearby village of Cloyne, which is about 5 kilometers from Ballymaloe (and incidentally the location of the nearest ATM machine), a number of us went to see a showing of a 2005 award-winning documentary called “Our Daily Bread” this evening back at the school. It was an eye-opening film, to say the least. The film depicts how modern food production companies employ technology to maximize efficiency, mass production levels, consumer safety, and profit. The scenes of the movie consisted mainly of actual working situations without voice-over narration or interviews. It reminded me a bit of parts of the film “Food, Inc.” without the commentary…but a picture speaks a thousand words, and we all were pretty shaken/shocked/stunned with most of the images we saw in the film. In the end, it really makes you wonder where your food comes from and how the animals, crops, and employees of these companies are treated.

As per usual, here are some photees:

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