Afternoon delight

I'm in cooking class for five hours each day this week, and so far I've had a blast. We're learning basic techniques. The first day was all about sauteing (direct heat), the second day we roasted chicken and boiled rice for pilaf (indirect heat), and today we braised lamb shanks and steamed mussels (wet heat). We're on our feet cooking almost the entire time, but the hours fly by.

The only problem, if you can call it that, is that we have a full five or six course meal to eat at the end of class, around 2 to 3pm, every day, with wine with every course. I've been floating home from class with rich food in my stomach to weight me down countered by a half bottle of wine lifting me into the sky.

Working in a huge industrial kitchen with fresh ingredients and every type of bowl, pot, skillet, and utensil imaginable is spoiling me rotten. I come home to my apartment with a counter the size of postage stamp and just want to cry. The good thing is that we have leftovers each day so I haven't had to cook dinner once this week.

I've learned a lot: how to make compound butters, prepare one's own chicken or veal stock, saute different vegetables, whip up a sinful chocolate mousse, braise leeks, macerate fruit, and the zen of mise en place. In an ideal world, I would have taken this class years ago.

I love to eat, no question about that, but I've come to enjoy the craft of preparing food and the joy that arises from carrying a beautiful dish over to the dinner table. The ritual of preparing and sitting down to a good meal feels so decadent in this rushed day and age.