- Food & Drink
Monday began early and in welly boots. I walked down to the milking parlour at 7.30am to help The Silent Pole milk the 2 Jersey cows that supply the school and Darina’s family with milk.
Or, he milked the cows while I stood in the corner and watched, occasionally asking questions to which The Silent Pole would chuckle under his moustache and cryptically answer: “Yeeees!” I suspect he understands more than he lets on but manufactures language barriers in order not to answer the same inane queries every day (“So how long have you been milking cows?”).
Milking took about 30 minutes, from the cows being shooed into the parlour to the churn of foaming warm milk being carried up to the house. It’s a smooth, automated process only disrupted this time by one of the cows deciding to let out a thundering great stream of piss just after she’d been hooked up to the machine. If you ever want to check how fast your reactions are, stand behind a cow when it opens the floodgates. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can leap clear.
Back in the school, I’d changed kitchens and cooking partners, a weekly occurrence that ensures you begin every Monday wandering about, asking: “Where are the Pyrex jugs? Where are the Pyrex jugs?” like Delia Smith’s amnesiac parrot.
After the bread debacle, I was determined to be on form, at the top of my game and in the zone. This resulted in me only slightly burning some of the corn tortillas I’d carefully pressed and then rolled out because my upper body strength isn’t able to cope with a tortilla press (must go to gym).
Having been pan-fired crisp and then stored in a tortilla basket to make them soft, I chopped and deep-fried them to make them crisp again. They were nachos and I had to muster all my iron discipline not to abandon my work station and disappear into the larder with them, some tomato salsa and a good time on my mind.
But dammit, this course is serious. So I covered my nachos in Irish Cheddar and green chilli, I grilled them and I was judged on how well I’d made a plate of trashy, greasy snack food. Like a pro, apparently. Almost as if nachos are my natural food level.
I was also responsible for making creme caramel. This was one of my favourite desserts when I was little and the sight of tea cups with squadgy yellow stuff setting in them was always a source of joy and increased saliva production. I wanted to do my childhood memories justice. I nearly managed it. I certainly showed them a sense of fair play.
The cremes had a few air bubbles in them and the top cracked a little on my tasting creme caramel because I tried loosening it with a knife rather than with my fingers (always get stuck in with your hands, that’s another rule), but the caramel sauce was perfect. The caramel shapes, on the other hand, looked like a primary school art class project. I have an urgent need for a delicate touch.