Monday, June 11, 2007

Thin skin

Since returning to my practicum on Sunday, I have realized that although I have resolved many negative anxieties and feelings concerning my departure from ophthalmology, I still have very deep emotions attached to the huge decision which I made over two years ago. This realization occured because yet another person at the Pan Pacific asked me "why did you leave medicine, are you crazy?" and my response was a combination of irritation, defensiveness, and tears. Unfortunately, finding the right words to summarize such a massive, life-changing, and tortuous decision to a total stranger who is not in medicine is next to impossible (and unnecessary, in my opinion).

The good news is that despite such repeated assaults to my ego, I am happy to be back in the kitchen after a week of caring for my wheel-chair bound mom. During the month of May, my goal was to learn how to run the "Sauce station" which is basically responsible for all the non-cake and non-baked items, such as pastry cream, sauce Anglaise, fruit products, ganache etc. Becoming more independent was certainly a confidence booster and allowed me to experience the pressure of production. For my last month, I will switch to the "Cake station" which requires more skill and speed.

Meanwhile, Chef Ted taught me spherification techniques several weeks ago and I never managed to write a post about the experience. It was a strange flashback to a combination of part chemistry lab and part anaesthesia rotation, using sodium citrate, calcium chloride, and sodium alginate solutions and multiple syringes. Spherification was developed at the famed Spanish restaurant, elBulli, and involves using chemicals to create a thin membrane around a fluid centre. Different size drops or streams of fluid, for example mango purée, will produce a variety of shapes resembling caviar, an egg yolk, or spaghetti. I had a blast.

1 comment:

Melly said...

I'm seriously considering becoming a pastry chef. I have a Bachelor's in Psychology but I feel exhausted just thinking about grad school.... I'd really rather produce something of my own. Having switched, do you still enjoy your decision and will the hard work (knowing nothing of baking other than cupcakes and the simple things) be rewarding? -Melly