Salt, Shot, Lemon
TGIF! How this week has flown! Apart from last week, I’ve hardly appreciated a Friday more. The last thing I knew, it was Monday morning and I wasn’t mentally ready for the day, let alone week to begin. It was the three week anniversary of Ooma's passing and I was having a really hard time. One thing for sure about being here and doing this, it's certainly a distraction from grief. That morning, I had “stock” duty at 8:00, as I’d had last Friday and even that seemed only 10 minutes ago. And now it’s Friday again and so much has happened, so fast. They said our 12 weeks here would fly by. 20% done.
Today, we all had so much on our plates and I do mean plates. We were busily getting things out and ready to be tasted by 1:00. That’s way beyond the time when we’re supposed to be still in the kitchen doing anything but straggling. It was a big day. It was fish day. We all had to filet a fish, or half of one, at least. And, skin it. Mine was a pollock. The sinister-looking, pointy pollock. Later, we’re going to have to be able to identify a bunch of the fishes that are local to these waters. Too damn bad this isn’t the Gulf of Mexico. I know those fishes pretty well. So, I’ll have to learn all about cod, haddock, hake, pollock and skate.
When I'd mostly cut the head off my Mr pollock but it was still attached, I asked if I should just rip it off which tickled my teacher to no end. She thinks I'm a delicate lady. 😂
For today's recipes, I learned a whole new way of mashing potatoes. Incidentally, I’ve noticed that several of the locals say “potatoes” with a funny beginning to the word, like it’s almost a “b.” As in, “b'tatoes.” I first noticed it last week and thought it was just a funny way of saying it by that particular person lecturing to us but then, I noticed several of the teachers in our kitchen this week saying it that way too. It’s soft, that “b,” so you mightn’t notice it at all. But it’s there.
The Irish do potatoes differently from how I learned to make them in Texas. They have a certain way of boiling them, unpeeled. In just a couple of inches of water and after a few minutes you drain even most of that water off, and let them continue steaming. Then, you peel them, hot-as-hell, with a tea towel and butter knife. The skin falls right off. No waste. That’s the Ballymaloe way. Then, you put them through a ricer, add a couple of eggs, season with salt and pepper and some milk you’ve had simmering, put it in an icing bag and pipe it out onto you dish. Or, simply serve it in a bowl.
When Florie, my teacher, tasted my “b'tatoes," she said, “Oh! God! They’re perfect. Couldn’t improve on them any now, I’d have to say.” She said something similar about my first attempt at brown soda bread too. She said, “We’ll be makin’ a proper Irish woman of you yet! And marry you off to an Irishman!” 😳😂
I was just so happy to have it under my belt. Everyone was in a such a dither.
Dear Rupert took me back to town this evening to the grocery store and this time I remembered my wallet. We had a lively chat about our frenetic week and all we learned, cooked and ate. At the roundabout in Midleton, he said, “Shall we do something adventurous and go to the Tesco instead of the Supervalu?” I said, “Why not?!” In rural Ireland, it don’t take much to get excited.
Then came the Blackbird Pub in Ballycotton again. We all arrived there to make merry together and celebrate the birthday of one of us, Lulu, from Greece cum London. In such celebration, I had my first tequila shot. With Arden. Oh, the irony. Yes, I had come to this point in my life, a tequila-shooting virgin. Shot-neophyte that I am, I had to be told what to do first. Salt, shot, lemon. That’s the order. It made me instantly dizzy. Dizzy, but jubilant.
The weather has turned noticeably cooler. It rained off and on several times today and when I was going from building to building, I could smell the wood smoke coming from the chimneys. Two of my favorite things are cool air mixed with wood smoke. Autumn is on the rise. It's thrilling to me to be here, in this country, in this season. Samhain, or to we Americans, Hallowe'en, started here. Look up Samhain, pronounced SOW-in. It's a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the "darker half" of the year. Hallowe'en's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain and the Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. 🍂 🍁 🎃
I just opened my window to settle down to sleep and hear it's raining again. Good night, all.