Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Not-Cooking Cooking Class

There's a book I'm reading right now that I've kind of fallen in love with: Kathleen Flinn's The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry. It's the story of Flinn's adventures through the three levels of cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu (the original one, in Paris). Essentially, it's cooking pr0n; stories of ingredients and implements and hot ovens and hands kneading breads. Yes, there's a narrative folded in there like butter into a puff pastry, but the real draw is the pages and pages of sentences like "and then I folded the butter into the puff pastry."

Anyway. I kind of thought my cooking class would be like that.

But it wasn't. It was a drinking class.

The advertisement on the Lebanese Taverna website ("Best Middle Eastern Cooking Classes") clearly says the classes are "full participation." And yes, when I went for my first class they did give me an apron, a cutting board, and a chef's knife.

And then they gave me a glass of wine.

During the next three hours, I used my cutting board and knife exactly once: to cut an eggplant into chunks. They didn't even have to be even chunks. For the rest of the time I and my compatriots watched--and drank--as our master chef selfishly did all of the cooking himself. He took our bits of eggplant and carrot and leek and stirred them into a sauce; he ground the chickpeas into hummus; he made the rosewater perfume for the baklava; and he had pre-folded the butter into the puff pastry so all we got to see were the completed squares.

Sure, I think we were supposed to be learning by watching, but this got more difficult--or less interesting--the more wine we drank. I think once we figured out that we weren't actually going to get to touch the food (and I was not the only one surprised by this) we stopped caring about what was going on at the kitchen end of things and started talking about jobs and boyfriends and the recession.

Anyway. Long story short, it wasn't at all what I was expecting or wanting. If I'm going to learn more about cooking I need to get my hands into the ingredients myself. Unfortunately there seems to be a dearth of cooking classes in the DC area. I haven't yet explored the community college/continuing ed route, so there might be some options there.

In the meanwhile I guess I'll have to finish reading Flinn's book and dream that I'm the one folding the egg white over the egg yolk. ^__^

(In addition to the cooking pr0n book, Kathleen Flinn also has a blog. It is less cooking pr0n and more eating pr0n, but still fun.)

1 comment:

Gori Girl said...

I know that the NoVa Community College system has what looks like some really awesome cooking classes, as do the community rec centers in NoVa. It costs an extra ten or twenty dollars per class if you're not a Virginia resident, but it's worth thinking about if you can't find anything in the district.