Five years ago, as I was approaching my 20th year in Oh Canada, I wrote that I would be doing 20 new things to celebrate my 20 years of living here. But, alas, after one blog, my best laid plans fizzled out to nothing. It’s not that there weren’t a plethora of places and things and adventures in Toronto that I had never even thought about let alone tried. No, I just got stuck in my old routine of not venturing forth and pushing my comfort levels just a wee bit beyond the place where they’ve been for most of my life.
But, that doesn’t mean that I can’t do it now, eh? So, it’s five years later — so what? Really, what better time to embark on adventures than now. Here I am at the beginning of a new year, a new decade and marking a quarter century mark of living here in the True or Whatever North. I’m not going to give a number to these adventures, just to recognize them when they happen.
So in this new spirit, I decided for the first time ever in my life, to take a cooking class. For years, my shyness and low estimation of my culinary abilities, kept me from the kitchen classrooms wherever I was living. All of my cooking has been trial and error and following recipes in a cookbook. I’m not a bad cook just a predictable one. But this year I decided I wanted to start cooking things I’ve never tried before and I wanted to start cooking more vegetarian dishes. So I Googled — how else — Vegetarian Cooking Classes in Toronto and was not all that successful since most were far too expensive for my budget or in far and distant areas of the city. I have learned that if a class I want to take is not easy to get to I just won’t go.
But then, I remembered the Continuing Ed classes that the school board runs. Over the years, I’ve taken many of their offerings — yoga classes, drawing, improvisation which was great fun and Spanish numerous times. So there I went in search of a vegetarian cooking class and found it — Vegetarian Indian Cooking. It was perfect — food I had never cooked in my life, a cost I could afford and, most important, a place easy enough to get to from home. The one negative was that it didn’t finish until 9:30 pm which is ridiculously close to my bedtime. But enough, I said to myself, you can do this once a week.
So last Wednesday, I took myself down the hill on the bus and walked to the old high school, then up the three flights of stairs and, then, down a long, long, long hallway to get to the kitchen classroom. When I walked in, I had that old dread I always feel going into a room full of strangers. But, this time, I left it at the door and took a seat. Needless to say, I was the oldest person in the room. Most were 20 or 30 somethings but, hey, it didn’t matter since we were all there for the same reason. The instructor informed us we’d be cooking food from Northern India since that was where she was from. She also emphasized that we’d be doing the cooking not her. She passed out recipes, gave a very short demonstration on chopping skills and how to rinse rice and lentils then told us to make up our teams and start cooking. I was teamed up with two of the 20-something guys and an older woman. Oh, I forgot to mention, I really hate to work in teams so that, too, was going to be a new and different thing.
We decided the order we’d cook the dishes and collected the ingredients for the Aloo Gobi (potatoes and cauliflower) and the Dal Fry. The boys commandeered the stove while the two women chopped. They were very pleasant and ok to work with but later, when I was putting together the Jeera Rice I did mention that perhaps they might let the women try their hand at the stirring and control of the fire. The best part of all the cooking was the incredible smells of the spices wafting up from the dishes and tasting them all at the end.
As I walked back down that long, long, long hallway and those stairs, I felt good. I felt good that I was there doing something new and not at home watching TV and drinking that third glass of wine. I also felt good because I realized how very comfortable I was putting together these recipes and being in that kitchen. It was like an appreciation, finally, of how much I instinctively know about cooking.