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Francesca @ C.I.A. week 3

One of the most remarkable things I’ve noticed since being here is the passing of time. Twenty minutes, one hour, six hours, it’s hard to feel the difference between them all, and I’m always surprised when I get the chance to glance at the clock. It’s not until I’m staring at the sunset along the Hudson River that I allow myself to unravel from the demands of the day. I take that moment to recount all that my classmates and I have accomplished. At any given moment, there is magic being made here on the Culinary Institute campus. You just have to know where to look.

This week we finished our unit on soups. I am so grateful to be doing this unit during the peak of the Fall harvest because soup season is upon us, and I have all the excuses in the world to practice what I’ve learned. From hearty beef and vegetable soup to everyone’s favorite, French onion soup, my soul has been nourished by these recipes each day. My family is eager for me to come home and to taste test my skills.

Another striking phenomenon is how we interact in our kitchen through the ever-present circumstances of the pandemic. The use of our eyes to convey reactions and sensations is fascinating because, without the bottom half of a face, it’s surprisingly almost easier to interpret someone’s unspoken thoughts. Our Chef instructor’s mask-muffled voice and ultra-skilled hands show us our demonstration once, and we are left to our stations to recreate his masterpiece. It’s not until we bring up our bowl for grading that he takes down the mask only long enough to take a spoonful that we get to see his pronounced mustache hiding underneath. It never fails to shock all of us until it’s quickly gone again under his mask, and you’re left to rely only on the messages in his eyes to tell you what he really thinks about your dish. The same happens when you see your classmate’s face poke out of their masks for just a moment to waft up the smell of their consomme or caramelized onions.

As we enter our fourth week of school, the impacts of our hard work every day are starting to become apparent. Yesterday was the most lively Friday night yet on campus, and it is clear that everyone has been desperate to let loose all week. Next up for my foundations class is to learn and master the mother sauces, so stay tuned to hear more about these in our next newsletter.

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