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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Novice Foodie, on a (Maki) Roll

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2009 at 4:30 PM

I'll admit: When I first started eating sushi, I only pretended to like it so I'd seem sophisticated. No, really. I wanted to look cool, and it's hard to look cool when you're forcing down oversized mouthfuls of raw fish. Luckily, I never got caught up in the lie, because on about my third attempt, my palate responded positively. I've been downing rolls and sashimi ever since.

So when my pal Kelly said she had an extra seat in a hands-on sushi and beer class she and Jerad Gardner were teaching at Kitchen Conservatory, I jumped at the opportunity and set off for cooking school.

Kelly Schmickle and Jerad Gardner teaching at Kitchen Conservatory. - KELLI BEST-OLIVER
  • Kelli Best-Oliver
  • Kelly Schmickle and Jerad Gardner teaching at Kitchen Conservatory.
The last cooking class I had was probably in sixth grade home ec when we made cinnamon muffins before sewing potholders and after learning about laundry cycles. I wasn't sure what to expect at Kitchen Conservatory, but the atmosphere was casual and relaxed, and it helped that my friends were the instructors. Kelly explained that she and Jerad rarely go out to eat sushi anymore because they can get fish that's just as fresh and roll their own maki for much cheaper than they could in a restaurant. Point taken.

This was a couples' class, and I was paired off with Jerad's mom, Gwen, whom I had never met, but with whom I had plenty to talk about. We got along just fine in a sea of married and dating couples, and I enjoyed using my Encyclopedia Brown skills to determine those couples on awkward first or second dates.

More prep work than actual cooking. - KELLI BEST-OLIVER
  • Kelli Best-Oliver
  • More prep work than actual cooking.
I suppose it would make more sense for my first real cooking class to involve, you know, actual cooking. We really just prepped and assembled. The only cooked items were the edamame (this involves boiling water, something I can do quite well, thank you very much) and the rice. I suck at cooking rice, which also involves boiling water, but you actually have to pay attention to the rice so it doesn't burn. For some reason, I lack the focus to prevent rice from burning, and what kind of person would I be if I tried to make rice knowing I would burn it? Not a nice one. Instead, Gwen deftly julienned carrots while I snapped asparagus, then blanched the veggies. These tasks made me feel competent.

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