From bacon to baked goods to butchery

The contrast couldn’t be starker.

One day, I’m trudging across the frozen wasteland that is the parking lot at Red River College’s Notre Dame campus at the inhuman hour of 5:30 a.m., steeling myself for another 8-hour stint in the college’s Hard Drive Café, the next I’m strolling in a leisurely two hours later, sans knives, waistline exploding, stomach moaning in anticipation of another day spent eating countless pies, tarts, pastries, cookies, cakes and custards.

Granted, the transition wasn’t so sudden, nor was it unexpected: after almost 7 weeks on the line frying eggs and making clubhouses at a brisk, albeit sweaty pace, I moved to the next section of the culinary arts program: patisserie. And for the past six weeks I’ve been knee deep in two ingredients I’ve spent the past ten years vigorously avoiding: flour and sugar — a story in and of itself and one very much for another day.

Suffice it to say, my time in the patisserie lab has been carbohydrate-rich. However, despite the frequent bouts of sugar blues, I did enjoy the experience. (What’s not to enjoy about silky panna cotta, buttery bear claws, and gorgeous apple raisin galettes?) Still, when the end came, as it did last week, I must say I, and my gut, breathed a heavy sigh of relief — and learned, belatedly I suppose, you truly can have too much of a good thing.

So, what comes next? Why the yin to patisserie’s yang, of course: butchery!

Yes, for the next month I’ll be learning about the primal, sub-primal and fabricated cuts of cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and fish.

Bring on the protein!

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