The main event, for me at least, this weekend was my first lesson in my cookery course. Every Saturday for 12 weeks I am heading off to Kitchen on Fire in Berkeley for a basic skills course. This Saturday, it was knife skills. I'll admit I was stupidly nervous about it. The course is taught by a funky Frenchman (earring, greying beard, unfeasibly French accent given how long he's been here) and his American partner who has permanently surprised hair and beard and lots of tattoos. It was therefore fun, relaxed and not cordon bleu. Thank God. I've only just seen Julie and Julia, as well as having read Kathleen Flinn's memoir of studying at the Cordon Bleu in Paris (amusing if a bit slight). So I spent the end of last week worried that I was going to be useless at everything and not have a clue. Turns out I mostly have a clue - this week at least. And the class is very mixed. There's everything from experienced but bored self-taught cooks like me, to complete beginners (including a newly married couple who were there together as neither can cook, and at least two husbands sent by their wives).
So I have learnt how to slice and chop properly and safely and how to look after my knives. I did not learn how to bone a chicken. I really want to know this but I think it will have to wait for a more advanced course. I'm not sure this course will revolutionise my cooking as I can do most things mentioned in some form and I usually cook without a recipe so I'm happy going "off piste". But I'm not always sure why I'm doing things, or how to check stuff is done, or making sure it tastes the best it can and learning handy tips to make things easier, more consistent and quicker will be great. I think it will give me confidence and broaden my repertoire.
The second lesson I had was spent mostly on my back. Pilates, before you ask. A beginners lesson at which I learnt that my private tutor worked me a lot harder (ouch!) than the class tutor.