After eight months of planning, I have started at the Culinary Institute of America- Greystone. It sounds ominous when I say it in that way, akin to a wedding or some other-CIA executed task force, but the long wait was worth it. I am loving it here.
We don't actually start in the kitchen for another three weeks, which is a bit of a tease. I'm currently sitting in an empty classroom, with a computer and white board and rows of desks and chairs, while I can hear, not fifty yards away, pots and pans and stoves and knives making all the familiar kitchen chatter that I know so well.
I'm surrounded by perfectly stocked dry storage closets, every spice you can possibly name, dairy walk-ins with three types of heavy cream and cheeses galore, Viking ranges at every turn, spacious countertops, Le Creuset wares hanging on the wall because there's too many of them to fit on the rack, knives and more knives- and yet I am not cooking.
I still have three weeks of history, Introduction to Gastronomy, Writing, Mathematics and Food Safety classes before we can start cooking. It would be like sending an adolescent boy to a party at the Playboy mansion but then telling him he has to stay inside and play checkers. Serious tease.
But I will wait happily, because the classes we have at the moment are interesting. I am enjoying reading and studying after three years away from academic pursuits.
For example, last night we read the introduction to J. Jacobs' book "A History of Gastronomy," in which he describes our hunger as the driving force behind our evolution. As our hunger forced us into further and more complicated searches for food, our brain grew: our ancestor might have remained a "dim-witted quadruped had his new-found appetite for meat not impelled him to stalk bigger, faster game." Hunting therefore changed our feet, our posture, and ultimately, our brain. We are the animal we are today because of our hunger. Fascinating!
Or consider the question posed in Flandarin's essay "The Humanization of Eating Behaviors": when did humans go from eating whatever we could get our grubby hands on to eating what we choose? "When did human beings begin to choose among the foods provided by nature and what rules guided their choice?" For surely, what we eat now is a choice, and we are dizzied by the options out there. Humans are omnivores in the truest sense of the word, in that we eat everything. Cannibalism? Insects? Intestines? Frogs? Check all of the above, somebody somewhere eats 'em. So how do we make our choices? And are we better or worse for those choices?
Can you see how a cooking, thinking girl would just be beyond the moon in my shoes? Because I am.
Off to Math class. Finally I'll get good at Fahrenheit to Celsius conversions or remembering cups in a quart in a gallon versus a liter conversions.