And there I was, thinking that I knew how to chop an onion.
It’s half-past nine and I’m in a room of strangers filled with nervous laughter, eager-to-make-friends smiles and bravado. I’m in Devon at a cookery school in Ashburton called, in the best literal Devon way, the Ashburton Cookery School. I’ve booked on a full week Introductory level course with 11 others. We’re a mixture of what humanity has to offer with a large representation from the middle-aged and older man who have never or hardly cooked. As we do our introductions there’s a touching moment as we all ponder the enormity of being a widower and feeling that your late wife would have wanted you to cook for yourself and make a success of it.
Apart from the briefest introduction to the kitchen (wash your hands, don’t double-dip and never wipe raw meat over yourself doesn’t count as a full Essential Food Hygiene certificate, but it goes some way to covering the essentials) we start cooking straight away. Alan is our chef for today. He knows his stuff and is a pleasure to watch and chat to.
We make chapati bread but it’s called Roti and could almost be a pitta, cook a smoked gammon, cut an onion with knives so sharp they can cut air and are shown butchery for a chicken breast. I now know what a mini-fillet is and where to find one.
Here are my first attempts:
An onion to put in the stock to cook a smoked gammon gets the Zorro treatment. Who says I’m not taking this seriously?:
First the rice:
Then the curries:
Then let the noshing begin…
Then we had a go at posh Ham, eggs and a Jenga of chips:
And of course the obligatory flapjack with the largest amount of butter and sugar I have ever seen. Have you ever tried to eat raw butter on its own? How about cups of sugar? No? Impossible to eat? How about combining them and baking them? Yes, please.
We wave weary goodbyes, safe in the knowledge that we can’t possibly eat as much tomorrow; Can we?