Almost exactly this time last year I was sitting down to take what I truly believed, and hoped, would be my last exam, if not ever, then at least for a very long time. How very wrong I was. I’ll jump straight into details. This exam, called the intermediate practical, ran over an afternoon and the following morning, so you serve your food for lunch on the second day. Half an hour before the exam you get told the starter, main, vegetable, potato variant and dessert that you would have to prepare, and the obligatory bread rolls in 8 different shapes. You then have to write a time-plan for the afternoon session which gets photocopied and returned to you so the examiner can check you’re doing what you should be at the time you’ve said you will. My dishes were French onion soup with croutons, rack of lamb with a parsley crust, potato rosti, cabbage gratin and a chocolate gateau. Which overall I was pretty pleased to get.
The whole thing is organised and watched over by the omniscient and omnipresent Mrs A. (As far as we know, no relation to Mr T, the only fools you’ll catch her pitying are of the fruit variety). We had been informed by groups further up the school that if you made a mistake, however small, even if you rectified it immediately, she would see, so it was with an impending sense of doom that I was told the work station I was using would be positioned right next to her marking bench. The added pressure of someone looking over you while you cook aside, I was more concerned with the fact that she would be able to see me every time I licked my finger whilst icing the gateau.
That being said, I think I managed to stay focused for almost the whole exam. The sole, I think this blog needs more food puns, exception being when a teacher walked in and started displaying the bacon and maple syrup macaroons she’d just made. I was not given any.
Overall, I was fairly happy considering it was the first exam I’ve done there. Everything went out on time and, I think, everything was cooked properly. My guess is that I’ll lose more marks for my cooking ‘process’ than I would like though. I can comfort myself thinking that it could always have been worse. I have distinct memories of maths exams in school where, just before we went in, James would say a key equation out loud, but change one small detail somewhere in it, laying seeds of doubt for the rest of the exam. Thanks James.
Of course the exams were only part of the story of this week. We still managed to find time to make spiced mackerel, a Normandy apple flan, mushroom paté, filet de porc roulé dans d’épinards, Danske Weinerbrod (Danish pastries) and have another cake icing session amongst other things.
Luckily they have taken pity on us this coming week, and so we have Monday and Tuesday off, and then on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we have a wine tasting course. And miraculously that’s it. I have managed to bring this blog back up to date. No doubt I shall fall behind again soon enough, but for now, you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that if you are reading this, you know everything currently relevant about my life. I should probably get out more.