Week 3: Getting our Chef Whites

Reaching the half way mark on our journey through B block, brought about a gastronomy tasting and sniffing, a Tuscan wine tasting, and picking up my “whites”.  While these were some of the high points, they by no means encompassed the whole of the week.


In our gastronomy course, we got to do another experiment in taste and also smell. I would have to say this was one of coolest things I have done in class so far.  I encourage all of you to try this at home too, but the effect one won’t be nearly as surprising, since I am going to give away the ending. In the photo below moving from the ceramic ramekin, clockwise to the right, we have cups containing the 5 major tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami. The sixth cup is a mixture and the seventh consists of: 2 Altoids, 2 Tic Tacs and 2 mint leaves.  In the center is a pepper and a jelly bean.

We were supposed to sip the first 5 cup and then observe where each taste fell on our tounge and map it on a tounge diagram.

Tongue Diagram

So, for the seventh cup, we were instructed to eat the mint leaves, Tic Tacs and Altoids.  Once we had them completely chewed, we had to eat the small pepper in the middle of the plate. So, I popped it in my mouth and it tasted like a green bell pepper. When everyone in class was done, we discussed all the sensations we experienced with our professor and she asked us to describe or identify the taste of the pepper, and the majority of us said green pepper or bell pepper. Then she told us that we were in fact eating a jalapeno.  The last time I tasted even a fraction of hot pepper, my mouth was on FIRE, but this had no effect. The reason being the intense mint flavors in a way distracted our pain receptors in our mouth, which is what causes that spicy feeling. I suggest everyone tries this at home and let me know your experience. Some of the people in class,  who let the pepper touch their lips felt a burning from the volatile oils, but if you just pop it in you should be good.
Another little test we did in was to hone our sense of smell. Professor Stanley is also a sommelier, so this in class exercise was something that sommeliers use to train their noses. There is a kit out their called Le Nez du Vin, which contains the 54 most common aromas present in wine (I desperately want one!!!) Each aroma is in a numbered glass bottle. Twenty-six of the bottles were placed around the room, we needed to quickly smell each one and identify the aroma.  Can you guess how many I got right?
Three, was all that I could figure out.  I was not the worst either.  I think one person had like 5 or 6.  Most people had 1 or none. It is a great exercise and I do suggest trying it if you happen to come across the kit. They are extremely expensive, which is why I am putting it on my indulgence wish list.
After three week, I don’t feel much like a chef, I feel like an overworked college student, but things were getting brighter when I got the chance to slip on my whites! It is difficult to tell but my name is embroidered on the right side of my jacket! I have 5 crisp white jackets and 5 pairs of snazzy check pants. It is my job to keep them clean for at least a year. It is going to be a challenge.
The amount of food we are required to ingest is insane. Most collages have the “freshman 15”, well at culinary school it is like the “freshman 25-30”. The only good thing, well, for me anyway, is banquets.  We are supposed to dine every evening in a mock-dinning room being cooked for and served by our upperclassmen. Many students find this to be a pain in the ass, because we need to be dressed in code (really) the professor will and frequently does kick people out if they are dressed inappropriately.  He is to my knowledge the only professor that does enforce the code. I have seen some shocking ensembles that people are trying to pass off as business casual… when is the last time furry Ugg boot, hoodies or crotch revealing skirts were appropriate for the office?
My dinning companions Alex, “Memphis” and Jake.
Our main coarse Spinach and Provolone Stuffed Flank Steak with Red Wine Sauce, Polenta Fries and Zucchini and Tomato Jam.

All the food is for the most part good, but I need to try and keep in some sort of shape which is why I have taken up swimming.
We have an amazing pool, which is usually empty. I have been frequently doing 30 minutes of freestyle laps, which gives me some good energy during the day, but I have yet to see any weight loss. 
On campus there are a ton of groups for every culinary interest or desire. The Wine Society hosted a Tuscan wine tasting, which I was quite excited about. I am very dense when it comes to alcoholic beverages of the Italian persuasion and this experience didn’t do much to sway me to become better aquatinted. The grapes were Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon blends, the higher percentage was the Sangiovese.  
While I wasn’t particularly fond of the wines. We were given these wine tasting worksheets, which I could extremely useful. The worksheets were created by the Wine & Spirit Educational Trust, the foremost international body in the field of wine and spirit education! The form broke down aroma and flavor characteristics (fruit, floral, spice, vegetal and other), appearance, nose, palette (sweetness, acidity, tannins, body, flavor characteristics, length) and conclusions (quality).
It has been an extremely busy week, but absolutely amazing. For each week that I am at the Culinary, it quells any doubt about my being here. The end of this weeks starts the downward momentum towards the end of B block and finally getting to wear my whites and move into some practical courses!
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Author: caseyangelova

Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria www.caseyangelova.com

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