I want to make the most of my time in New York City, but being a full-time student with a heavy workload makes that pretty much impossible, especially when the subway rarely functions properly and it seems like everyone is running on their own clock. I’m struggling to even set aside time for myself to sit, breathe, and read at the end of each day, which—besides getting my day started slowly and making my morning coffee—is perhaps my favourite part of the day.
It’s been a month since I started culinary school, and every single day has been exhausting and intensive. There seems to be a never-ending list of French culinary terminology and techniques, all of which I am excitedly learning and working to master. The pace of the class is fast and some days, all of it is a blur. I was so tired the other afternoon I nearly took a tumble into the compost bin, which gave my instructor and the rest of my class something to chuckle at. My peers are, for the most part, fun to be around. I never thought I would seriously use that line from Forrest Gump about life being like a box of chocolates and never knowing what you’ll find, but that’s kind of how getting to know everyone in my class feels like. When you’re stuck in the same room with the same people for eight hours every single day, over and over again, those people start to feel like family.
So far, we’ve made a lot of stocks and sauces, potatoes, and vegetable dishes. Some of them have been quite meat-heavy. I don’t eat meat or dairy and attending culinary school with these limitations is challenging, but not impossible. The biggest hurdle I’ve come across is not meat’s ubiquitous presence, but perfecting the many basic cuts of vegetables referred to as taillage in French. No matter how many carrots and bags of potatoes I go through, I just can’t seem to cut the perfectly straight ½ cm by ½ cm squares required for macedoine, or the cocotte, which truly is a culinary student’s nightmare. I’m not one to give up, but the frustration is real. At the end of the day, I have to remind myself that while making the perfect cut is important, it’s not the only thing that matters. I’m going to culinary school to learn and become a better cook.
Tomorrow, I hop on a long flight to Hong Kong to spend time with my family.
Stay posted, because there will definitely be food, people, and places worth writing about…