I <3 Alton Brown

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This morning from 2:13 onwards, I woke up every single hour, paranoid that I had slept through my alarm. I've had past experiences of almost missing a 6AM Saturday flight home because I had set my alarm to 'weekdays only', flat out NOT setting my alarm after repeated attempts to hit the evasive 'save' button and of course, the ever popular and passive act of sleeping through the alarm entirely. Today was the first day of school and I was determined to arrive bright and early with time to spare. Tardiness was entirely feasible after my rather unsuccessful attempt to arrive to the school on time for orientation last Thursday. I even went so far as asking someone to call me 5 minutes after my alarm was set to go off to make sure my ass was out of bed and on my way to getting ready and out that door into the tepid morning San Francisco rain.

So, at 6:15 AM, coffee in hand and lugging the backpack that hasn't seen hot book action since college, I was out the door and hoofing it 3 blocks to my car parked on a quaint little neighborhood street. I was quite pleased to arrive 20 minutes early to socialize with classmates as well as enjoy a less than healthy breakfast of coffee, buttery, oven fresh cranberry-almond scones and devilishly flaky turnovers. One of the perks of attending pastry school is the always available goodies prepared daily by staff and interns. Once all 13 students making up the 2009/2010 class had arrived, it was go time.

After introductions were given by the staff and students, we were handed our class texts and launched straight into our first lecture. Class texts consist of:
  • One (1) big-ass book which one could use as a defense mechanism in an emergency situation. I have no doubt the perpetrator would be knocked out cold it this book were thrown with precise force and timing at the offender's head and/or neck.
  • Two (2) huge binders filled with 2-3 inches of double sided pages containing formulas and weekly and daily objectives.
Damn. I mean, damn! Once I looked over the formulas and objectives, the excitement was really starting to set in. Of course I had been ants-in-the-pants excited way beyond this point in time, but this made the entire decision of moving to a new city to attend school and learn the craft of something I love, very real. With no time to waste, we launched into a 5 hour lecture on wheat varietals, milling practices, bakers math and dough temperatures. I couldn't have been happier.

I've had my fair share of lectures in my day. Let's just say I've attended college on and off for a good 8 years as I constantly changed my major and attempted to figure out what the hell I was doing with my life. I'm no stranger to sitting. listening, note taking and question asking. The difference here, is I was excited! I cared! There were many epiphany-filled moments in which I recalled sitting through torturous Chemistry and Biology lectures wondering "when will I EVER use this mind-numbing information?!". The question had been answered years ago, but hadn't fully hit me until now. IN THE REAL WORLD. Painfully obvious, I know. But does that really matter until you really care?

As the instructor discussed protein structures and their relation to dough formation and the final product of a flavorful, crusty baguette, I personally thanked every single episode of Good Eats I had ever watched. I've always been intrigued by food and the science and chemistry behind it. I have the bespectacled, spikey-haired Alton Brown to thank for bringing such education to the masses. I recall many a night on my couch, searching for something to watch on TV. When I realized an episode of Good Eats was on next, nothing else mattered. Not even an HBO series could compete. I was riveted and my behind was not leaving that couch until the next commercial break.

First day of class: check! Tomorrow the pastry hounds will be released into the lab for our first hands-on lesson. I hope to be bringing fresh loaves of bread home for me and the roommate by the end of the week. Yum.

2 comments:

Foptimus Prime said...

Alton Brown is /the coolest/. He's one of my personal geek heroes, being something of an amateur gourmet with geekish leanings myself.

Pastry school is /exactly/ where you ought to be. I can't wait to read more about your culinary adventures. :D

Jenny Pierson said...

Doesn't he remind you of Dan?!!? That's all I can think everytime I see this guy. Sadly, it's tainted my objectivity and cannot enjoy his culinary tidbits. Sounds like school is going good! I'm incredibly happy for you and your new life. :)

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