Ennui: (n) A feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.
I wish that I was at school.
I want to feel the atmosphere that is particular to its four walls, the atmosphere that fills me with a sense of contentment and belonging. (It didn’t always feel that way, but I am grateful that it does now.) I long for the company of my wonderful group, the friends who have made this such a fantastic experience so far. I miss being in the kitchens and the classrooms and although I’ve had my share of disappointments when things haven’t gone as well I as I’d have liked, it is seldom that I’ve ever been unhappy there. I also miss the classes, just being there, doing things, learning. I still consider it a privilege to be taught by such talented chefs, chefs that I respect and admire and who push me to be better every single day. And in truth, that’s what I miss most right now: the feeling of inspiration that school gives me, the inspiration that comes from being surrounded by so much knowledge and skill.
At the moment, it feels like my life is on hold. The new term doesn’t begin for another two weeks and already I am struggling to fill my empty days. The hours drag and the tick of the clock mocks me with its slow march. I read, watch television, listen to the radio, go for walks, but it isn’t enough. I need to do something. I need to get back into the kitchen, I need to bake. It might sound strange, but I crave the satisfaction of producing a perfect genoise or tray of macarons. I want to be rolling out pastry for a tarte amandine, whisking egg yolks for a batch of creme patissiere, cooking sugar to make buttercream. My hands have been idle and unoccupied for too long and I am becoming restless. Somehow, in the space of just a single term, LCB has taken over my life. The school has become my world; the classrooms and kitchens are my home while my group has become a second family. Nearly every thought I have relates to food or baking; I have become totally immersed in the world of patisserie and culinary school. I thought I’d appreciate some time off, the chance to rest and relax for a while, but in reality, I just want to be back where I belong, where I make sense.
Before I started culinary school, I used to say that baking was my passion. However, it’s only now that I realise what that truly means, now that a day without baking feels wasted and a week outside the kitchen is enough to make me feel aimless and bored. My love of patisserie has become part of me, as natural as breathing and without it, the days feel endless and lacklustre. Having said that, maybe it’s no bad thing for an aspiring pastry chef; it affirms that this really is what I want to do.
Of course, there is such a thing as too much patisserie, even for a patisserie student! (It’s rare, but it can happen…) Sometimes, I just want to make something simple and satisfying and for that, bread is always a good answer. These are white baguettes, my first attempt at anything other than a basic loaf or rolls. With a crunchy, crusty exterior and soft, chewy crumb, this is the kind of bread that I love. Warm from the oven with a spread of salty butter, you can’t beat it.
(Recipe taken from How to Bake by Paul Hollywood.)