Today is the first day I’ve felt that I can even think straight. The past week has been chock-full of information. Some would say information overload. I have been on a rollercoaster ride of emotions from elation to despair, well despair might be too strong a word, let’s say elation to utter exhaustion. The first two nights I could barely form two sentences in a row. Yet it is also hard to describe the beauty of Ballymaloe and the surrounding area, the wonderful people who work here (I’m particularly fond of my tutor-chef for the week, Florrie, right now), the incredible diversity of the other students representing 16 countries, and the FOOD! I’m sure my gluttony will pass when I can’t fit into my chef’s pants anymore.
I have experienced the anxiety of so much newness and break in my routines. Combined with residual jet lag, I feel I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since I arrived in Ireland. I absolutely must find a replacement for swimming, and given my family history, I don’t think wine is the best choice. I’ve walked a lot, ran once, and mustered two mini yoga sessions, but hopefully we will fall into a predictable pace where the material and techniques we are trying to master won’t seem quite so overwhelming. Today was a good example: we covered how to make a proper cup of tea, how to make cheese biscuits and red current jam, we spent an hour or so on farm cheeses, followed by a session about wine, which included sampling two Chardonnays (I know tough stuff). A very interesting session followed with the makers of Van Blunt Stillhouse whiskey, small batch distillers hailing from Brooklyn, NY. All before lunch. Our afternoon lecture with Darina covered Food Safety and Sanitation. I was really surprised at how interesting I found the topic. Anyone who knows me well will understand the catastrophic appeal food poisoning would have to one such as myself. After a day of sitting, two of my roommates and I vowed we’d find the ocean come hell or high water and we did–about a twenty-five minutes walk from our cottage. My head cleared enough to be able to come home and get organized for tomorrow’s day in the kitchen. I am responsible for Chocolate Hazelnut Tart and Penne with Mushrooms and Marjoram. Fingers crossed my short pastry will go as planned. After tomorrow, I’ve survived a whole week. Darina promises that we will no longer want to quit after this hump.