I Burned the Carrots

My first day of culinary school is officially behind me.

When I first got to school yesterday I exchanged my uniform – the XS was a bit snug and, considering there is sure to be a lot of food involved, I thought I should have at least a little bit of wiggle room. We were then paraded to our assigned lockers and instructed to change for class (you’re never allowed to wear your uniform to class – basically it’s against health code to sit on a grimy subway and then cook up a dirty delicious meal).

My locker is the smallest little box you ever did see on the bottom row. I basically have to lay down on the floor to even open the thing. oh well. Changing into my chef uniform wasn’t as easy as you might think. Who knew you wrap the apron tie around your back but then tie it in the front? And how am I supposed to know how to tie a neckerchief? Thank goodness our Chef Instructor patiently demonstrated for me and the other clueless ones in the bunch.

I’ll spare you all the boring details, but we started the lecture with sanitation/hygiene and a tour of the kitchen/overview of equipment. Once upon a time I thought a pan was a pan. Boy was I wrong. I learned a lot and, even though it seems to basic, it’s gonna take some studying and experience to remember which is the sautoir and which is the russe, and so on. My head is spinning from trying to soak in all foreign (literally, considering a good portion of the vocabulary is French) information.

But now for the fun part: Chef  instructed us to open our knife kits to go over what goodies were waiting inside. He demonstrated a few different french cuts (check out this sampling from About.com for an idea of what we were doing). Even though I nearly sliced my hand off more than a few times, I somehow escaped unscathed and my cuts were much better than I would have imagined. I think?

Guess I was getting a little ahead of myself because next thing I know, I’m burning the carrots. Well, not quite burning, but definitely doing exactly what Chef told us not to do. After we chopped our veggies, we learned two classic ways to cook vegetables: a l’anglaise (ahead of time in highly salted boiling water and then shocked in a bath of ice water) and l’etuvee (cooking in water, butter, and salt until the liquid evaporates and leaves you with a nice, buttery glaze).

We cooked the turnips we had chopped a l’anglaise, which was not as troublesome – though Chef did suggest our turnips should have been cooked more. Before we cooked the carrots l’etuvee Chef said “watch very carefully and don’t let the pot brown.” Easy enough. Not so fast. I thought I was watching very carefully, but all of the sudden I looked under the parchment paper lid and it was very brown. Oops.

Chef showed us how to stop the damage, but there really isn’t a real fix for this. Once the pot browns, those poor, poor carrots will never be bright orange – like everyone else’s.

I guess I’ll be eating a lot of carrots and turnips this week. I took a few of each home to practice, practice, practice.

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