I really should be working on catching up in my reflective journal for school, but I feel more of a pull to my blog at the moment. If any of the BU gastronomy professors are reading this sentence, please don’t read that last sentence. I know I haven’t been the most prolific writer this fall, and for that I apologize to you my readers. While I am worried that people will forget about my blog, you dedicated readers are the ones who suffer. You know who you are: the ones who check every couple of days to answer the eternal question: “Has she updated yet?” The more I worry about losing readers, the more I hear “Why haven’t you updated?” “When’s your next post?” and even “Is there someplace on the internet we can report a missing blogger?” Thank you so much for your questions, your nagging, and overall your support. I cannot make excuses about why I’m not posting as much, other than to say that I miss the days of being paid full-time for a job I only worked at for about ten or fifteen hours a week.
This semester looks very different from the last year I spent luxuriously studying up on and writing about gastronomic issues. Whereas I used to sit down every morning with a pot of Teekampagne tea (now also available in the US!) and read and write about food, today is the first time since I’ve moved to Boston that I’ve had the time to finish a pot of tea in one sitting. Of course, perhaps that’s partially due to the fact that I just got my teapot last weekend.
My daily routine starts out luxuriously late compared to most people. As I’ve mentioned, class usually starts at 10:30am. I don’t understand why a good third of my class still comes late – it’s ten thirty! The few days I worked last year I often had to be at school by seven thirty in the morning. Now, even with an hour-long commute, I can get up at eight with plenty of time to spare.
Classes have evolved since I first posted on it. They still involve a morning lecture or demonstration, but now they are by an invited chef, who explains to us his or her philosophy, ingredients, and dishes. These are very interesting, and it’s fun to sit and watch as delicious food unfolds before our eyes. However, the afternoon demonstrations offer the most practical learning for me. This is where we apply the things we’ve learned; it’s when chefs come in and teach us their set of recipes. All come in with an agenda (whether it be to teach us about their cuisine, to get through the day’s recipes, or even to find employees) and some execute their plan with more precision and organization than others. Many ask us what our plans are for the future, and it’s been fun to hear the subtle changes in everyone’s description of themselves. Depending on the day, and the chef, I will change my description to emphasize writing, learning, or cooking.
We often don’t get out until five or six in the evening after finishing the dishes (it’s amazing how many dishes twelve culinary students can make!). There’s often some errand to do after school, and lately I’ve been lucky if I’m home before eight in the evening. I have just enough time to eat a very small dinner (we usually eat what we’ve cooked around four-thirty), catch up with David, check my email, and then it’s time to think about going to sleep to start over again the next day. Weekends aren’t less busy. The only difference is I often get up much earlier for work.
Thanksgiving was a very welcome change. David and I luckily got a ride down to Philadelphia with some friends of his, and we spent three wonderful days with my sister and her husband. The first day, Thanksgiving itself, we made the menu I posted about. Everything was delicious*. Specifically the custard, the stuffing (if you use this recipe, make sure though to chop the mushrooms small and add a bit of extra bread), the endives, and the sweet potatoes. I must say, I have never really liked sweet potatoes. I’ve been able to tolerate them with lots of sugar or maple syrup, but never plain. This year, though, Sarah made them from the Julia Child recipe, and added a bit of grated ginger and butter. It was amazing. None of us could believe how something so simple was so delicious.
If anything this fall, I’ve learned to value that simplicity even more than I have in the past. The time I get to spend with David, the moments in class when I make a dish I’m really proud of, and even the time I spend at work, fixing the cookies in the display or making sandwiches on the line and joking with my coworkers. I’ve told many people that this semester I haven’t dreaded going to school once. Although some days I come home happier than others, I’ve always learned something and look forward to doing it again the next day. In the meantime, I need to take advantage of this moment, and get caught up on that journal…
*With the exception of the turkey, which was a bit of a flop due to the fact that I misread my thermometer. It was good for leftovers though!
Julia Child’s Sweet Potato Purée
adapted from “The Way to Cook”
4 large sweet potatoes
1 medium Yukon gold potato
4-6 Tbsp butter
½ tsp ginger (or just to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
Peel and boil all the potatoes until tender. If you have time and space in your oven, you may bake them as well (this will take at least an hour, and doesn’t require peeling beforehand). Over low heat beat in the butter, ginger, and seasoning, mashing the potatoes with a masher or mixer. You can make this ahead of time, but make sure you don’t cool off the potatoes. Put only half the butter in and keep warm in a water bath on the stove. When you are ready to serve them, beat in the rest of the butter and season. They must be served hot!