Saturday, April 23, 2011

The art of cooking

I have been taking a cooking class once a week with my friend Horacio, who is a stay-at-home dad while his wife works here at the hotel. Horacio grew up in Argentina and then later made his way to Europe where he lived in various places such as France, Spain, and Ireland. His first profession in life was as a psychiatrist, but he later decided to attend one of the top culinary schools in Europe because he realized he loved cooking and, in his words, it is much more rewarding to see people happy from 3 hours spent cooking a meal than from 3 months of therapy.

I have really enjoyed the class with Horacio and, like everything, once you start learning about something you realize how much you don't know. I have learned how to fillet a whole fish, how to properly prepare a mushroom, to make Jamaican banana mash, and how to make homemade Indian curry's. I am learning the difference between "sauteing" and "sweating" the onions. I am learning the difference between arborio, jasmine, basmati, and sushi rice. I have learned new words such gnocchi, fumet, and chumichurri. I have learned how to properly garnish a plate of food and about presentation, which apparently tossing slices of pizza or napkins across the table is not proper. I have learned when is the correct time to label a food as "beautiful" and "fantastic" and "nice."

It has been interesting and humorous to cook together and work through our communication barriers, as Horacio speaks Spanish as a first language and we occasionally have misunderstandings, such as "mionize" (mayo), "common sense" (cumin seeds), and "cimumum" (cinnamon). He makes me laugh when he tries to use phrases such as "you grabbed the words from inside my mouth," and "time flies away."

We will have a few more classes and he has promised that we will make sushi, but Horacio recently got a phone call inviting him to interview for a position as head chef of a new, upscale restaurant in St. Kitts, and he got the job. He is thrilled to get to use his skills, and I have enjoyed learning a few techniques and recipes from him.

Here are a few of our dishes. Horacio's wife and Adrian came for lunch one day after we had prepared the meal. This was a lobster "twice-baked" (those are my words), salad with homemade dressings, homemade bread, and a pear thingy for dessert (apparently I still need to learn some more vocabulary.)

Since we're talking about food, here are some of the fun things we had for our family Valentines dinner a few months back. Spending precious time cutting out heart-shaped pepperoni is definitely a once-a-year thing, but the kids thought it was awesome.

Lastly, here are a few shots of the English food we made last month when our friend Brandon had a birthday. His wife, Tamsin, grew up in England, and Adrian and Brandon went to the same mission (10+ years apart) in Birmingham. Horacio taught me ahead of time how to make a few of the dishes I would need in order to make this dinner, and it was a success. The food was awesome and was very photogenic also! Pictured here are the yorkshire puddings, roasties, and lamb with mint sauce. So good! if I say so myself!


Janene said...

That's impressive Beth! I already thought you were a GREAT cook, so I can't wait to taste some of your new and improved skills! :) Way to go!

Lisa Strupp said... that lobster thermidor??? If so that is my favorite thing in the whole world! When we lived in Maine, lobster was super cheap so I made lobster thermidor (Julia Child's recipe of course) Your cooking classes sound so fun! I love to cook! So...if you have any good recipes, feel free to share!!

Burt Family said...

Yummy! What time should I come for dinner?