Monday, 9 March 2009

Stomach Bugs and Knife Skills

Well, as they say, the best laid plans......

Following on from my Borough Market trip, my plans for kedgeree (and indeed anything else of an edible nature) were put on hold for over a week by the onset of the stomach bug from hell. I awoke on Monday morning (after a friend's birthday lunch party on Sunday) feeling decidedly dodgy. I initially put this down to a certain level of over consumption on the Bouillabaisse (delicious!) front or, more realistically, the red, white and pudding wine fronts at lunch on Sunday. However, over the coming hours and days, I realised it clearly had nothing to do with any of that and was indeed a virus or bug of some kind. The end result, when coupled with possibly my busiest week of the year at work, was a week when, for once, food did not appear anywhere near the top of my priorities.

By the following Monday I was beginning to feel a little more human again and on the Tuesday I had a morning off work to attend a knife skills course, at Leiths School of Food and Wine, that I had been bought as a Christmas present. The course was the first in a series of three that aims to teach students how to choose, sharpen, store and use knives of various sorts. The morning was very enjoyable and, whilst nothing we were shown was rocket science, it was useful to be reminded of the correct way to handle the various different knives and, most importantly, the need to keep them sharpened - something I am very bad at remembering to do. The first part of the three session course focused on vegetables and fruit, so by the end of the morning the 16 or so students had generated an impressive pile of chopped vegetables, herbs and fruit. The staff prepared some of the vegetables as a soup which the class ate before leaving and they also prepared a caramel sauce which the students were at liberty to pour over their segmented oranges to take away with them. I took them up on this kind offer!

Inspired by all the chopping, and with the first real appetite I had encountered in over a week, I set about looking for an idea that would allow me to cook something using some of my newly practised skills but that would not reverse the gastric progress that I had achieved over the last seven days. A dash to Marks & Spencer (which made a pleasant change to the dashes I had more customarily been making in the preceding few days) on the way home resulted in roasted cod loin (marinated in lemon juice and olive oil) with brown rice and a tomato and basil salsa. Whilst it was hardly the deconstructed kedgeree I had been planning the week before it was at least food that I could fancy eating and that, I am pleased to report, had no dire consequences!

And that salsa contains diamond shaped pieces of tomato I will have you know!

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