By The Foodist
I was going to finish my three part series on kitchen equipment, but over the last few days I've had a kind of epiphany. Ok, not so much and epiphany, as say a major stick up me bum about a particular issue that's been eating at me for some time.
Why is it the culinary students think that the only thing to learn in culinary schools is how to hold a knife, cook a chicken, and make some stock?!
This is driving me near bonkers trying to figure it out.
Now given the average age on the CIA campus is 23 (Last I heard at least) that would lead me to think there was a little more mental maturity about the educational process, but jumpin jimminy christmas am I just a little tired of hearing "Why do I have to learn this stuff, I'm going to be in a kitchen cooking."
Ok, here's a little info for you.
First off, more then half of you won't be in a kitchen three years from now. Secondly cooking, very much like life, isn't just about what your doing right now its also about where it comes from and why we do it. Thirdly, you cant honestly tell me that if you love food you just want to know how to hold that knife correctly?!
Everyone, it seems, wants to be the next Ferran Adria and create some new culinary wonder to make them rich and famous. All the while never paying attention to why you first need to master the basics and learn how they came to be the basics. If you walk through the halls and ask any random student who Antonin Careme was there may be a handful of students who know who he is. Ask them what he did and I would bet the $2.26 in my bank account that the most they could tell you was he made Napoleons wedding cake.
Ok, so they don't know some ancient food history, fine. No one expects every culinary student to brush up on the 18th century while they learning stock ratios and how to make hollandaise. But should they care about it? yes.
We are so involved in catching our episodes of 30 minute meals and Hells Kitchen (Oh which reminds me a current CIA student is out in LA right now participating in the 4th season... Good Luck Christina, please make us not look like complete idiots...please.) that we aren't looking over our shoulders to see what it took to get us here.
We have a wealth of knowledge at our disposal here. Countless texts and experienced minds to pick at. Yet, it seems the student body seems less and less willing to ask the questions, probe for answers, and research "Why" then ever before. We want to spend more time trying to get the chefs to like us, compare the newest shiniest sharpest knife, and dominate the kitchen in some alpha wolf competition then to notice how much we could truly learn about food, culture, and why we eat what we do.
I took a poll this week on my blog asking if people thought cuisine was dying out, and after talking with students around campus realized that to understand exactly what cuisine is you would have to know where it comes from, what makes it up, why it came about, and who was doing it. None of which seemed to matter to students, except if it comes from Italy it must be Italian Cuisine.
My hope is that we have an epiphany, as students, as teachers, as foodies to realize its just not about how to make that stock, or cook that chicken but also why we do it that way, and who taught us this grand way of creating what we consume