Since coming back from Korea, I have had a rethink about vegetarianism. Korea and the countries around it, have really opened my eyes to the principal that people around the world eat meat without question. That doesn't mean I agree with their food processes, but it does mean I have become a little less sensitive and perhaps more realistic about meat. Asian countries especially, seem to embrace the flavours and textures of their food and separate the whole thing from the lambs and pigs frolicking in the fields. A few people have joked around with me for some time that meat eating is something I am seriously missing out on. On the other hand people have commend my resilience when faced with difficulties while living in a culture that cannot understand vegetarianism. I am a vegetarian of 14 years and find the idea of eating meat strange and exotic! I have always brushed it off when Tom has commented that I will be lacking important nutrients. But knowing I was coming home to do this cooking course, I began to wonder how I would cope even preparing meat and to a certain extent fish as well. Food with a face!
It led me to think long and hard and I began to question my reasoning for doing the course at Bettys. Why put myself through it. Bettys is an institution, and a company which sources every single ingredient carefully and ethically in order to reap the best quality products. Free range butchers and locally sourced ingredients are of the highest standards. I realised that above everything else, I really enjoy cooking and eating and at the end of the day it is something I think will make me happy to be involved with day to day. I could not seriously attempt to get the most out of this rather expensive ten day stint or likewise a career in cookery, if I was not prepared to taste fifty percent of the end results.
So I did something rather naughty. On the plane on the way back to England, Tom had luckily been offered three seats to himself further down the plane where he could lie down. I was alone and really hungry. Lots of things were going around in my mind, it was a long flight home and it was a time of reflection, the end of an adventure. I realised that as an adult, I had not eaten meant, (other than the odd sneaky camouflaged ham or minced beef I found in my food in Korea). To me this seemed strange and I realised for the most part, it was psychological. The guilt, the judgement, the 100 different opinions. So when the flight steward asked me chicken or lamb, I said, "chicken, please". Nobody around me knew I was vegetarian, the airline and my director had failed to provide me with a pre-ordered alternative and I was hungry. So while no one was looking, somewhere above Russia, I ate some chicken.... and it was okay. Nobody gasped in horror, nobody laughed or made chicken sounds. When Tom came back he didn't believe me when I told him what I had done.
So since then, I have sampled a few bits and bobs and taken the notion that I shall not pigeon hole myself as vegetarian, I will simply embrace the Bettys experience and see what happens.
All the dishes below have been cooked by myself on the course, and sampled by myself.
|Eggs Benedict/ Florentine - Poached eggs on a toasted Bettys English muffin with ham and homemade hollandaise.|
|Plaice ready to fillet|
|Filleted plaice goujons - all by myself|
Hardest part of the day: Looking that fish in the eye.
Best part of the day: Filleting my first ever fish.
The rest of the day was spent on the hygiene course.
|Bettys full fat and creamy porridge. Secret ingredient is salt and brown sugar mixed in.|
|I opened my first ever oyster|
|And threw it down the hatch.|
|Cauliflower puree with pan-fried scallops and a red wine dressing.|
|So satisfying, 8 minute chocolate fondants. Served with Bettys breadcrumb ice cream|
|Rack of lamb, bones exposed by myself, with a herb crust.|
|Finished lamb although mine went in the freezer uncooked, so this is the tutors.|
Hardest part of the day: Dealing with the lamb bones.
Best part of the day: The moment I cut into my chocolate pudding and found fondant and not sponge!
|Finished profiteroles with chocolate and toffee sauces, filled with creme patissiere|
|The most divine Swiss onion tart. Nice pastry if I say so myself|
Best part of the day: Making a fab pastry case.