The wonders of French gastronomy transported to the kitchen room of our school – Ishaan Choudhary, Wilson’s School
The glorious classic gastronomic traditions of Brittany (the most westerly region of France) were transported to T5 at Wilson school last Thursday with the whole French class A and I tried to recreate traditional dishes popular Bretons. Using the vast array of ingredients Madame Bodinier had so graciously offered to us, the class split into two teams and began our journeys trying, without grace, to replicate the usual French cuisine. It didn’t take long for us to realize how unprepared we were for the challenge that lay ahead.
The first team, the one I was in the lead, was responsible for cooking the pancakes. We began by marveling at the excellent demonstration of Madame Bodinier. She began by unveiling a pancake-like article, sourced, as she has never hesitated to remind us, in the depths of London Paddington following a lack of stock in local stores. Already impressed, we became even more surprised when she placed said pancake-like item on a frying pan and started building what appeared to be a savory dish. Expertly, she foamed fresh cream all the way to the base and covered it with what I can only assume is the best grated cheddar cheese. Then she unloaded a barrage of fried mushrooms and ham onto the developing base of the patty before finally breaking an egg in the middle. After cooking for a while, she skillfully folded the edges of the pancake inward; it carefully contained all the ingredients while elegantly displaying the egg in the middle. It was both pleasing to the eye and, from her own reactions, presumably delicious. The same would not be the case with our own unsuccessful attempts.
Baffled by what we had just seen, the team began to prepare the ingredients. Dealing with a seemingly endless army of mushrooms was our first duty: a plenitude of mushrooms were ready to be washed, diced and fried, and, surprisingly successfully, we accomplished this task and worked well as a team. From there it was the descent. Maybe the problem stems from the fact that the rest of the recipe has to be followed unattended and unescorted by my peers. Without the moral support of my team (since each person had to individually create their own patty), the monumental intimidating frying pan was going to be the bane of my existence. Until it was time to fold the cake, everything seemed to go effortlessly and without hiccups. It was the folding of the ingredients that turned out to be really difficult, if not impossible. After many attempts to imitate the prowess demonstrated by Madame Bodinier moments before, my cake completely collapsed inward and the finished product did not even look a bit like what we had been presented with. I would say it was the result of my own incompetence in the kitchen, although I was not alone in my misery as many other members of the team’s patties suffered the same fate.
Arthur Wilson, a student on my team, said: âI just don’t know how she made it so easy! I often cook at home and my galette still has nothing to do with what it is intended for. ”
Every now and then I would take a look at how the other team worked and the result was a serious disappointment. While at least my group was somewhat successful for most of the cooking process, the other team did not share our triumphs. They were making “pancakes” – in quotes just because I would find the original creators of 13th century Brittany disrespectful to consider what they made to be an authentic pancake. Their dough contained chunks of pure butter and flour, and the resulting pancakes were severely undercooked and far too thick. Their mix was doomed to fail because of the offset and the leftovers they produced were laughable. Our own team laughed at their misadventures while enjoying our own pancakes, admittedly quite disfigured and collapsed. To put the icing on the cake, or the sugar on the pancakes in this context, the ridiculousness escalated as their team attempted to douse the raw mixture on a plate of lemon juice and cinnamon.
While we don’t do justice to the Breton founders who created these supposedly delicious sweet and savory dishes, the overall experience was unforgettable. The sensational teamwork deployed on the galette side of the kitchen room until the final stage of the proceedings did not go unnoticed with many dissidents appointed pancake makers seeking refuge in our ranks. It was certainly the best way to spend my Thursday lunchtime and I look forward to the next opportunity to perhaps better prove my skill in the kitchen and to better assimilate the notion of French heritage through gastronomy and cooking like us. originally planned.