I’ve been home for a week now and feel as if I’m just emerging from a dreamlike state. I arrived late last Sunday and on Monday immediately went shopping for some “essential” tools and groceries. First stop—Bed, Bath, and Beyondhttp://www.bedbathandbeyond.com for a wooden cutting board, sieves, ice cream maker, and pasta attachment for my Kitchenaid http://www.kitchenaid.com/. My incredibly supportive (read crazy) husband assisted me in spending the money we didn’t spend while I was away.
Next stop Wegmans https://www.wegmans.com. Front and center at Wegmans was Irish Farmhouse cheese, the same type cheese I made during my first week at Ballymaloe and which is still there maturing for another month or so before my friend Gerty goes to pick it up.
I bought semolina and the closest I could get to “OO” flour for homemade pasta, jars for jam, lots of fresh organic fruit, organic eggs and whipping cream. We grow our own vegetables. I should say Gerry does. I harvest.
Throughout the two stores I Informed (bored) my husband about the dos and don’ts of “proper” nutrition and zero waste. I thought about this blog in Wegman’s after mentioning Darina to the poor man multiple times as in: “Don’t let Darina catching me buy store bought mayonnaise when I can make it myself.” For the mayonnaise you can substitute lemonade, salad dressing, and bread to get an idea of how often I invoked Darina’s name while grocery shopping to say nothing of my extemporizing on the reasons we will only buy organic meats from now on. Another example: we have been composting since 1987, but we bought a countertop charcoaled filtered compost bin “just to be sure, to be sure,” as Rory O’Connell would say.
Then I went home and began cooking. On Monday I started in on the half dozen recipes I carried home with me as I awaited my four huge files of recipes to arrive. I made Ballymaloe Cappuccino Ice Cream, Gillian Hegarty’s Homemade Pasta with Tomato Chorizo Cream Sauce, Italian Fruit Salad, homemade cucumber pickles, Ciabatta rolls, and whipped cream Ballymaloe Style i.e. softly whipped. Add to that my own Grilled Courgettes (zucchini) with Grilled Banana peppers, watermelon, and feta from produce grown in our garden.
I felt good about getting started and kept it up through Thursday when I made a gorgeous Almond Tart with Cherries for a get together that evening. Then suddenly on Friday I wandered aimlessly through the kitchen wondering what to do with myself. My sister, Elise, warned me this would come. There is a certain amount of grieving that goes with leaving such an intense but enriching experience that before you know it is over. I planned for the experience, prepared myself emotionally to take the risk, took the risk, fully embraced the opportunity, enjoyed the experience immensely, learned an incredible amount, got to know people from all over the world then POOF it’s over.
If Instagram is any indication, my fellow travelers and students are feeling the same way. We are all posting pictures of our latest concoctions as if to extend our stay at Ballymaloe. We had an experience at Ballymaloe that is hard to explain to anyone else even to those closest to you. I call it a “bubble experience.” You had to be there. Added bonus—I’m sleeping like a baby. I dream and dream about food preparation as if to integrate all I learned.
Time has come to return to the realities of my world. I plan to make my way through my favorite recipes as I get anchored back in my “real” life. I need to look at the pile of mail and bills that I’ve been ignoring since I returned. I need to start swimming again. And I have slowly begun to reach out to my friends and family whose lives I’ve missed catching up on.
But for now, just an old sweet song keeps Ballymaloe on my mind.