Vignette: Skills I never had before

I’ve been marvelling at myself recently, marvelling at the skills I have now that I simply didn’t have years ago. Last night, for example, I sliced up some home-smoked salmon with which to make some smoked salmon and dill-cream lasagnes (long story about how I got to the point of making salmon lasagne in the evening to follow one day) and was amazed to see how thinly I can now slice a filet of smoked salmon.

Ditto slicing up juliennes of red pepper to decorate a salad, or a brunoise of lemon peel. So actually I suppose it’s my knife skills that are impressing me most right now, even though I have always been easily impressed.

Where did these skills come from? From all those years of working in professional kitchens, obviously, earning my living doing what I like doing.

Before, if I didn’t buy smoked salmon ready-sliced it was going to be served in chunks, and the nearest thing I’d heard of to julienne of red peppers was probably Julian Clary. Now I can do both myself, and make a cracking beurre blanc, cook your steak bleu, à point or, if you insist, bien cuit and serve 55 people their starters inside an hour. Blimey.

But I still love writing, which is why I’m here at 7 in the morning trying to crank out some book chapters. Or rather, here avoiding cranking out some book chapters by pretending that this diary is a way to earn money when it really isn’t.



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