memoirs of a culinary student

Life as a culinary student is nothing like working a 9-5 desk job…. thank goodness =P  Despite our long days, the hours seem to just fly by while we’re in the kitchens.  I still wake up early every morning, but gone are the days of attending 7:30AM production meetings =P  Now, my life literally revolves completely around food… it’s like a dream come true!

Every morning Skyrock radio goes off at 6:45AM to the sounds of Akon or Black-Eyed Peas, but ever since Michael Jackson’s passing, more often than not, it’s Thriller =P  I get out of bed to brush up and enjoy my breakfast, which recently has been this particular brand of organic blueberry yogurt from Les 2 Vaches (The 2 Cows), which contains actual blueberries!  If I need more energy for the day, then I stop by Poilane bakery on my way to school for their petit pain aux raisin, quite hearty and overloaded with plump, sweet raisins =)

Class usually starts at 8:30AM with either a 2.5-hour long demonstration (where we sit and watch the chefs as they make the recipes and we write down the steps) or a 3-hour long practical (where we actually have to make the recipe).  Our days usually end around 6:30PM, which means we get either two demos and one practical or two practicals and one demo.  Let me tell you, having two practicals back-to-back is seriously exhausting… mentally and physically.  It means you’re on your feet for six hours straight, working in an extremely hot kitchen, chopping up veggies and hacking up bones like mad, and all the while, having to make something that actually tastes good =P  We’ll be lucky if we don’t end up burning anything… especially ourselves =P

Once in a blue moon, we’ll actually have class from 8:30AM to 9:30PM, which of course means I immediately pass out when I get home and require at least a day to recover =P  Other times, we have it easier, with just one or two classes a day, but then the school tends to make up for those up by adding extra classes on Saturdays =/

Outside of school, I often seek refuge from all this overexposure of French cuisine by going out for something un-French-y =P  More often that not, it’s been Chinese food =P  (only because I haven’t been able to find a decent sushi place here in Paris… oh Sasabune, how I miss you dearly… at this point, even Hide Sushi would taste like heaven =P)

So, this time, it’s Shanghai-nese hand-pulled and knife-shaved noodles at Happy Nouilles in the 3eme.  I’ve actually been craving this place since I found out about it a few weeks ago, but lately the weather’s been too warm to eat a bowl of hot soupy noodles.  Naturally, on the first slightly cooler day we got in August, we went for it!

The people there all spoke Mandarin (which was a good sign I suppose, since it is supposed to be Shanghai-nese restaurant =P) and were super friendly… most likely cause they figured we were tourists =P  We all hovered over the bar once the noodle master got down to business with his noodle-pulling and knife-shaving… quite an amazing spectacle really.  It’s too bad my camera lens wasn’t quite fast enough to capture the moment ><

All of us ordered the special Sichuan beef noodle soup, but I chose the knife-shaved noodles instead of the hand-pulled noodles.  Both were equally delicious and when it comes down to it, it’s really a matter of preference.  I preferred my knife-shaved noodles cause of its ‘QQ’ texture (al dente, if you will), but some others preferred the hand-pulled noodles.  To each his or her own ;)

All in all, it was an immensely satisfying meal that didn’t come with a hefty pricetag!  I’ll likely return in the fall when they bring back their Taiwanese-style beef noodle soup to the menu =D

So what exactly entails the typical weekend of a culinary student?  Well, since it is the weekend before finals, I’m hanging out at home with my jar of Nutella, using it to practice writing the word Opera for our pastry technical exam… just another Saturday afternoon =P  (As it turns out, writing with Nutella is a lot easier than writing with real chocolate, which I later found out during the exam =P)

Sundays are usually my days for R&R… to prepare myself for the long week ahead, of course =P  The market on Boulevard de Grenelle takes place every Sunday morning and that’s where I usually go to pick up my weekly fruits and veggies.  This week, my shopping list includes a 2-lb bag of white button mushrooms… that’s right, two whole pounds =P  Time to practice the art of turning mushrooms!  Chef said that after a kilo, we should become pros.  I gave up after half a kilo =P

Not bad for an honest day’s work, right?…  just another day in the life of a culinary student… ain’t it grand? ;)


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