29 August 2011

Day 10: As the Potato Turns

I will probably remember day 10 more for the trip into school. Some highlights: a 3-year-old kid asked if I liked the bus and why I had whiskers (I didn't shave… go me!); I eavesdropped on a completely full of shit college kid who bragged to his friend about his fighting skills, including how he broke someone's arm and made it "look like a clock"; a homeless dude on Sunset Blvd. asked of passersby, "Excuse me, can you spare 10 million dollars?"; there was a near-throwdown when I spotted a culinary student from the Art Institutes board my bus. Okay, not really on that last one, but I imagined us unzipping our knife kits and julienning carrots for the honor of best for-profit culinary school in Los Angeles County.

As far as actual culinary schooling, day 10 featured more knife technique, including four new ones: carré (3/4" cubes) of potatoes, paysanne zucchini (thin triangular slices), oblique carrots (chunky triangle things), and ciseler shallots (a very fine dice, basically).

We also did more julienne and brunoise carrots, and most of the students have resorted to munching on our carrot trimmings. Because, you know, people starving in Africa and all that. Also, we get pretty hungry breaking down food and not cooking it.

Hands down the most painful thing so far has been the tournes. It's from the French verb for "to turn" and that's basically what we do: whittle with a paring knife, turn, whittle, turn, whittle, turn. Unlike most other techniques, which require one hand to hold and one to work the knife, tourné primarily requires my fingers to do things they have never done before.

I'm fairly certain it's also the only time the proper knife technique involves the blade coming back in your direction, almost directly toward the thumb. Miraculously, no one in class has cut themselves with the paring knife.

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