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Sunday, December 11, 2005

spoiling my senses

It was hot in the kitchen.

I don't know if it was the oven, or the handsome French chef who kept standing so close to me, but I stayed rosy cheeked the whole time.

I took my first cooking class yesterday afternoon. I took two metros across town, then ran down a large street, through a market laced with herbs and spices, fresh fish, colourful produce and yelling merchants to Printemps, a Parisian department sotre. I went sraight to the fourth floor, where a stainless stell kitchen surrounded by glass awaited me. After washing my hands and tying on my plastic apron, I was ready to begin.

We started with dessert: un fondant au chocolat noir. "This is not like the fondant you find in a grocery store," explained the eye candy in the apron, "chocolate will not ooze out when you cut into your cake, it's fondant because it is soft inside, and will melt in your mouth."

We mixed eggs with sugar, melted butter and chocolate, and whipped it all together with flour. We poured the batter into a triangular plastic bag, cut the tip, and squeezed it artfully into molds for baking. With those in the oven it was time for our main course: cod in a honey and soya sauce and mushroom polenta (cornmeal).

We were taught to make our mushrooms young again by skinning them with a knife, to dice onions in an artful manner, and to sautee them together in peanut oil without throwing them all over the counter. I swooned as our instructor threw the mix up in the air and caught it in his pan. Chefs make me weak.

As the polenta cooked we fried the cod in a mix of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, soya sauce and honey. The aroma teased the senses as we fried the skin crispy, and then let the rest of the fish cook in the sweet mixture.

When all was cooked we placed a a flat blob of polenta-which looked like a mix between an omelette and mashed potatoes-in the centre of our dish, set a long piece of fish in the middle of it, covered it in the sauce, added a sprig of parsley, and were ready to eat.

All seated together around the stainless steal counter, a young man asked what kind of wine would go best with this meal. When the chef declared that a dry white wine would go best, I grinned and asked if he happened to have any. For a few more euros extra I had a glass with my meal, which brought out all the flavours of the fish and made the meal go down smoothly. I sat like a little lush, pleasing my senses, while the rest of the class stuck with water.

The fondant au chocolat was placed on a leaf shaped plate, on top of immaculate squiggles of caramel. The outside was hard, but right in the centre, was that soft chocolate dough that tastes something like love.

I left smiling, and walked for hours through the streets, the winter sun scraping the buildings, the sky a bright blue canopy above me. A young man looked at me and yelled "Beauty!" And I smiled the whole afternoon.

It was a delicious day. It ended just as tastefully, with a spicy dinner in an Indian restaurant with my friend Harold. He spoke to our waiter in Indian and told him I looked great naked. The poor man smiled, nodded, and treated me very nicely for the rest of the night.

Dessert was several shots of Jack Daniels in an Irish bar before we took off home giggling.

It was a beautiful day, to say the least, and all my grey skies turned blindingly blue.

a glimpse
living under an arch
buildings bathing in sunlight
dreaming of travel


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bon Appetit Magazine would be such a natural fit for you. :)

What a great day, it's always invigorating to have that nice mix of new activities, alone-time to daydream and visits with good friends.

Send my best to your folks when you catch up with them in Castelnau-de-M.


8:35 AM  
Blogger baylor said...

Oh Gill, I feel like I am reading something wonderful and refreshing and real and honest when I read you blog!

You brightened my day and it is only 9:15 a.m.!


6:15 AM  

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