Day 6: Classics. Playtime. Video.
To our collective delight, we took out our knives for the first time today. Thankfully, I was not also the second person to cut myself; that dubious honor went to someone else. (She’s okay.) We were not shown how to peel apples in the style of Iron Chef Sakai, at the base of some great machete. Our much more humble practice was a good basic introduction to knife handling for many in the class, and it was quite amusing to see little curls of plastic rolling off various cutting boards under the toll of these sharp new tools. Hacking apart apples and pears in various fashions led seamlessly into another tasting, this one consisting of an enormous variety of fruits. I must say, this was the most palatable tasting thus far, even though the cantaloupe was so far out of season that it tasted less like melon and more like a piece of a box someone had shipped cantaloupes in. At some point.
In addition to this extravaganza of sharp objects combined with acidic foods, we had our second bake today: that venerable old standby, blueberry muffins. The purpose of our baking today was not to learn how to bake blueberry muffins, but rather to study the effects of leavening (in this case, baking powder or baking soda). My team’s came out the best, but it was not our fault. Each team prepared the same muffin recipe, varying only the quantity or type of leavening used; my partner and I had the good fortune of being assigned the recipe as written. Others were instructed to replace baking powder with baking soda (darker muffins with a tinny aftertaste), to use no leavening at all (very pale in color and pasty in texture), or to add extra amounts of baking powder. The batch with the most extra leavening was the most exciting, as it ran over the sides of the pan, and looked as if a tiny green meteor had hit each one dead center, leaving not only a respectable crater but a piney tint.
For those wondering, we did indeed cut up our pâte de fruit of yesterday. I've eaten one piece of it. That's all the sugar I need this month. If anyone wants some, please just let me know.
Class concluded with a video presentation all about the glamorous world of sanitation. This was everything you would imagine a low budget instructional film from the 1970s to be. The narrator covered all areas of this broad field: the guy who comes to spray for insects, botulism, nose-picking, and, naturally, how to keep all parts of your mullet covered with a hairnet so none gets in your soup. Sanitation, particularly in New York, is heavily governed, so I have a feeling that we have not seen the last of this very exciting topic. The questionable decision to turn the lights off during the video reminded me of the French saying qui dort dîne: he who sleeps, eats.