The first Fine Food & Dining Society class of the year, Gourmet Fast Food, was a bit of a disorganized mess, but it was a lot of fun and a great hands-on cooking experience.
I knew when the list of classes came out that I had to go to the Gourmet Fast Food class and, more importantly, that I had to drag my boyfriend with me. While he congratulates me for my curries and tucks away my tagines, Calder is ultimately a meat-and-potatoes, cheeseburger-and-fries kind of guy, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I thought that I could get him to glance over the ‘Gourmet’ part and latch on to the ‘Fast Food’ bit of the class. That way I could have a fun time cooking new things and he could see that ‘fancy’ food wasn’t all that bad! My scheme worked out and we both really enjoyed our experience. Calder has already insisted that we sign up for as many classes as possible for next semester.
I want to get the bad parts of this review out of the way first so I can focus on how much fun the whole experience was, despite the chaos. Pretty immediately after coming in the door, the slightly frazzled Fine Food & Dining teachers started apologizing for how strange of a class it was going to be. The original teacher had been unable to make the class, so they had to throw together a new plan at the last minute. I felt pretty aware of the rush and confusion throughout the class, which ran about an hour over the time advertised at signups.
While I got a lot of really great instruction about making breaded mushrooms, pizzas, and fish tacos—including some pretty life-changing advice about how to prepare avocado—tasty hummus and churros were handed out without much explanation about how to make them. There were also issues with the homemade “chocolate hazelnut spread” being made too quickly so it didn’t reach the right texture (though it was delicious!) and with still-doughy asparagus and blackberry pizzas being taken to-go because people didn’t have the time to stay any longer. There was definite disorder, but not all the results of the chaos were bad.
Because this was my first ever—and only ever up to this time (though I’m ecstatic to attend more classes soon!)—Fine Food & Dining class I’ve yet to get a handle on what the average class experience is. But from what I could gather from people in the Gourmet Fast Food class that had been to other classes, the one I went to was much more hands-on than usual -which I loved! I chopped avocado and seasoned fish, Calder breaded mushrooms, and other groups created Cajun seasoning and yogurt sauce. Another thing that the general disorganization created was some lag time—students and teachers alike ended up standing around together waiting for churros to come out of the pan and pizzas to come out of the oven. This could have been awkward, but I can’t think of a better group of people to be stuck with. I walked into that class not knowing anyone except for my boyfriend and, as a happy coincidence, one of my many academic daughters. It seemed like everyone else had come with at least one other friend, but the situation didn’t remain cliquish. Everyone talked, laughed, and cooked together; it was fun to meet a bunch of new people interested in food!
Could the class have been better organized? Yes, and I believe, under normal circumstances, it would have been. But despite the disorder, Gourmet Fast Food was an amazingly fun class where I got to cook new food and meet new people. I also got to create and eat tasty food and depart with delicious leftovers and new recipes—the recipe books given at the classes are nearly worth the cost of the class all by itself! I consider it a very successful—and filling—night, and I can’t wait to go to more classes this semester and in semesters to come.
The Fine Food & Dining Society hosts cooking classes on a variety of themes most every Wednesday in the St Andrews Episcopal Church. They also host a myriad of other food-related events. See what they’ve got going on via Facebook or their website.
‘Gourment Fast Food’, Maria Sisci
all other photos, Emily Grant