- Food & Drink
I strolled into Kitchen 2 on Tuesday, relaxed and recharged after the Bank Holiday weekend. It was 8.40am, I had my order of work, I’d remembered my knives, I knew exactly what I had to do – or almost exactly. I was down for Supervisor duties on the rota, so I wandered over to the noticeboard to double check what that’d involve.
Running my finger along the line of dates and duties, I discovered it’d involve a little bit of time travel, as that had been my technical duty on Bank Holiday Monday. On Tuesday, I was down for Stock and I should’ve been chopping chicken carcasses in the larder at 8am.
Horror struck, I ran to the larder and apologised to everyone in a green apron I met (the teachers wear green aprons, we wear blue ones). I’m an insufferably goody two shoes and knowing I’d failed to do my daily duty was a slash to my soul and a bleeding dent in my pride. I couldn’t have felt more wretched if I’d been caught firebombing the pig tunnel.
Wrong-footed and despondent, I went back to the kitchen and proceeded to make a hash of all my recipes.
The first thing I made a foul mess of was mint sauce. Fresh mint, white wine vinegar, sugar and water. I measured out all the ingredients, mixed them together and tasted the sauce. It was a bowl full of evil mouthwash with black, claggy bits that stuck to my teeth. I added a little more sugar and water and tried again. No, still a vinegar sniffer’s idea of acid heaven.
With my hair stuck wildly out from underneath my cap and sweat pooling in the creases of my frowning forehead, I mixed a pinch of this and a dash of that into the sauce, tasting and stirring until I began to panic that I was going wildly off-recipe. Perhaps it was supposed to look like swamp drainings and taste like sour ditchwater? I poured some into a serving dish and put it aside while I set about butchering my lamb. (With hindsight, I think I mismeasured the water at the start and that’s why my sauce was so vinegary it’d melt cutlery.)
I’d sawn a lamb’s leg in half at the start of the lesson and pushed not-nearly-enough ground coriander seeds into the flesh. We were supposed to roast it to medium. I roasted mine to medium-well done. If you squinted, after I’d carved it, there was a hint of pink at the bone, the faintest blush of blood. But anyone with a hankering for the gory taste of flesh would’ve been disappointed. It had the flavour of a thousand disappointing, overcooked Sunday pub lunches and I plated too much of it with glazed carrots and gravy.
My teacher was sympathetic and complimented me on the quality of my glazed carrots – the longer I am here, the clearer it is that the only kind of restaurant I could ever confidently open is a vegetarian one – and said my gravy had lots of nice flavour. Possibly all the flavour I’d carefully cooked out of the meat.
I’d also carved my lamb with entirely the wrong knife. The odd looking blade in my knife set who’s purpose I couldn’t begin to fathom was apparently my carving knife. I owned a carving knife with my initials engraved into it and I hadn’t realised. Worse, I’d denied the knife its purpose and hacked the lamb to bits with my cook’s knife. I’ll have to have another go at roasting meat in order to make it up to the disappointed knife (and my disappointed mouth).