With Double Trouble on the way, I need to learn how to cook. Balgavy thought it might be fun to learn how to cook as well. So we signed up for a course - three Saturdays mornings in a row.
Unfortunately, we weren't impressed at all with the first class. We need to learn how to make the basics. Instead, we learned how to make things like shrimp cocktail.
And how to dip pretzels in chocolate.
Looks good but it wasn't really what we were hoping to learn.
An unhappy Balgavy.
With two remaining classes and Marc and me on the hook for over two hundred more dollars, Balgavy got to writing. The man is a genius. My favorite Balgavy letter writing moment is from a few years ago when he wasn't happy with the Pittsburgh cab service, wrote a letter to the mayor, and scored some free cab vouchers. The following letter undoubtedly compares favorably with Balgavy's greatest letter writing moments.
On Saturday, December 6, Listmaker and I attended the class Cooking 101: The Course for Absolute Beginners. Unfortunately, class one of this three-part course was very disappointing.
The structure of the class was poorly designed, ICE was not well prepared and the instructor, while helpful and friendly, was not especially enthusiastic or skilled at teaching novices.
LM and I are definitely absolute beginners in the kitchen. We've not held knives before and putting a pot of boiling water on the stove is about as much cooking as we've done. I'd hoped this class would serve as an introduction to how kitchen tools work with different foods and spices to create the essence of cooking.
The first half hour was spent listening to the instructor read the recipes in the packet we were handed that morning. She hinted at some of the thought behind the dishes, but did little more than read what was written on the page. That reading was followed by ten minutes of demonstrating the chopping of vegetables and one or two other techniques.
The class split into three groups, with each group assigned two of the six main recipes for the day. All groups were expected to make the same dessert. While I appreciate that I was given seven recipes, all covering different, simple aspects to cooking I am quite frustrated that I didn't have the opportunity to try the techniques in most of those recipes. Besides slicing a lemon, my chef's knife wasn't needed Saturday. It was aggravating to not actually chop an onion after being quickly shown how it is done.
My group of four spent the majority of our time peeling and de-veining shrimp for our shrimp cocktail dish. Later in the morning, once we'd assembled the sauce for the shrimp cocktail, the instructor tasted it and began adding more ingredients. She added pinches of salt and dashes of other ingredients but never explained the science or art of why she was doing what she was doing. That very essence of what I thought of as cooking wasn't taught.
While most of the pans, knives and ingredients were readily available, a fair number of items had to be sought from different floors and backrooms, causing an air of confusion in the kitchen. There wasn't enough lettuce. There weren't any ramekins for our sauces. The amount of chocolate initially supplied was low. For a class that teaches the importance of mise en place, the lack of preparation was appalling.
While the other students and I were standing around our workspaces for the second and third hours of the class, I feel like we were shown a lot more than we were expected to do. If I wanted to watch a chef use the tools in the kitchen, I could've watched a video on the internet.
By the time the class ended, I realized I hadn't gotten the instruction and learning experiences I'd hoped for. I spoke with LM and he had very similar reactions. I don't know how the other students felt, but I could see in them a desire to learn and a frustration with what they'd gotten out of the day.
I kindly ask that you refund our class fee for the two remaining classes. LM and I would like to use that money toward paying someone to teach us the basics of cooking via another format.
He got us our money back and our next two Saturday mornings were ours again.
But we still don't know how to cook. But that will be solved starting this Sunday when Balgavy and I will be lucky enough to start some private lessons with Handwashings' significant other, Suzy. More to follow.
Hey Marc, do you have your letter to the Pittsburgh mayor anywhere?
2 days ago