Ballymaloe – Weekend Seven

Finally – a relaxing weekend down here without a million and one things going on. Okay, maybe just a million things, but I really needed a break from the all-consuming, full-on pace at which this course progresses. On Friday after demo, I went on a quick trip with Jamie to the Village Greengrocer’s in Castlemartyr for a few things (it is basically the only place to get decent produce around here, apart from the Midleton Farmer’s Market on Saturdays), and once I got back, I was so tired that I took a nap…at 7:30 at night. I should have just gone to bed. Jenn awoke me around 9 o’clock to see f I wanted to go to the pub with her, her boyfriend Jean-Baptiste (who had flown in from Paris to see her for the weekend…ooh la la!), Kait, and a few others. I hemmed and hawed and was pretty indecisive about it. Finally, I declined, figuring that I should stay in and save my energy for Saturday instead.

On Saturday, I awoke bright and early (and hangover-free due to my good decision-making the evening before). I was signed-up to attend an all-day food writing course led by Hugo Arnold. Hugo Arnold is a print journalist, restaurant consultant, and cookbook author (He has written the cookbooks for Wagamama restaurant and for the Avoca Cafe.). Anyway, I thought it might be good to attend this lecture, as I do have a burgeoning interest in writing and of course, I love food…so wouldn’t it be grand to make a career out of combining both, blah, blah, blah? Well, Hugo seemed to think that a career in food writing is not a very financially lucrative one, and he’s probably right. I thought it was pretty interesting/scary that he compared writing to having a baby because “you live with it 24/7, but it can also be fantastically satisfying.” He also told us to write what you believe in, but more times than not in order to do it as a career, you won’t have the luxury of writing what you want or about things that in which you actually believe. Uh oh…now food writing doesn’t sound like such a fun career anymore…but more like a just another soul-destroying j-o-b. It’s the old expectations versus reality conundrum. Wah wah.

Anyway, Hugo also talked about a number of informative topics including the business of writing, recipe writing, recipe-led features for magazines, how to pitch your writing, restaurant review writing, publishing, and something he termed the “gosh factor,” which was basically expressing your own unique writing personality. I did learn quite a bit during the morning session, but by the time the afternoon session took place (after a very carb-heavy lunch of various kinds of delicious pizzas), I was very tired and didn’t feel like doing the two group writing assignments that he gave us. It felt like doing homework, and I hate trying to spontaneously write on a random topic (in this case, the random topic was: what has happened to Irish pork?) in a given time frame. Hmmm…I guess that doesn’t bode well for my interest in a food writing career, does it? Oh well, you never know where life will take you, so I’m still glad that I attended.

On Saturday evening, a couple of students organized a BBQ at The Blackbird Pub to raise money for the India charity that Darina and Tim started. It turned out to be a great evening, and the spread of food was pretty incredible. Well, we are culinary students, so I guess it was to be expected. There also ended up being a great trad session in the pub as well that night. Judging from the amount of dancing and laughing that was going on, it is pretty safe to say that everyone had a good time.

As a result of all the fun and mischief that was had the previous evening, Sunday was a recovery day. I was very productive and managed to get all (and I mean ALL) of my laundry done, organized my recipes, did my order of work for the next day, wrote a number of e-mails, made a few phone calls, and cleaned the kitchen. The tidiness situation in my house has finally become an actual situation for me. Some of my housemates are a bit on the messy side, and the other housemates don’t want to clean up a mess that they didn’t make. So guess what happens? The place (especially the kitchen) ends up looking like a complete sty. I never thought that I would become the resident neat freak of the house, but I really can’t stand a dirty kitchen, so I feel compelled to clean it. Maybe it’s also because I’m the oldest one in the house, but a dirty kitchen is just gross, plain and simple. Is this what being in your thirties does to you? Have I become the token responsible and tidy housemate? Yikes.

Some photos:

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