Season Of Change

It was a funny old week at Ballymaloe.  Tension was in the air, I think it was a combination of approaching half way and the thought of a long weekend (it's a bank holiday in Ireland today) becoming  wanting a much needed break from all things Ballymaloe and probably to some degree the people, and of course the exam. Let's not forget about the exam.  Yes the big "E" the exam, lord, everyone was all over the show, including myself I hasten to add.  Conversations were fraught, people were tight lipped on their herb recipes.  I mean to be honest shit was going down. It was like lining up for execution standing in the herb recognition line, no one knew what lay beyond the blacked out windows of Kitchen 1. Silently one by one we entered not knowing what fate had in store for us. Each and everyone of us frantically trying to remember what went with what and if our lives would end with failure to think of what you did with lemon balm (whip it into a sorbet in case you are wondering).  It was a tense affair the week 6 exams.   I can't tell you the sense of irony when I went into the exam only to be told I was to make scones.  I instantly guffawed but quickly turned it into a snort come cough to cover my own hilarity.  My nemesis, the scone.  Well I met the scone making head-on.  There was a reason that I baked them like a demon in the lead up to the tense 6 week exam, oh no I would not be defeated by this 80s tea time snack.  I will be triumphant. The scores will be in tomorrow.  I wait in anticipation.

Over the weekend I tried to think about what came up for me, why when you give it a sense of perspective, the exam was there to be nailed.  It was like the litmus test to ensure that you had been awake for the last 6 weeks.  I mean honestly if you can't put together a Kenwood after 6 weeks then there is something seriously wrong.  The technical skills were on reflection basic, important yes, but basic, skills that after 6weeks of intensive cooking should be in the old kitchen tool box.  So why the nerves? Why did it feel like failure was in reach?  I think for me it came down to a couple of things, one was that age old feeling that I somehow wouldn't be good enough, that I am fooling myself with my cookery ambitions.  It's that old chestnut, the old imposter syndrome when you feel that you are going be caught out for not actually being able to do whatever it is you are actually very good at.  For me that comes the familiar feelings of withdrawing, going into my head and beginning to feel isolated.  I think the other thing is that it matters, I care, I really do care, I want to do well or is it that I need to do well, there is so much riding on change. It is the season of change after all.

I love Autumn, I love watching the leaves change colour, it's a season like spring, when I feel like I am aligned with nature, you are literally shedding a layer to move into something else.  Well, let me tell you that's how I feel at the moment.  I'm like a one woman layer shedding maniac in the middle of a career rebirth.  Sounds dramatic but that's the reality of the situation. I think the trick is to not think too much about the fundamentals, you know the stuff that if you actually dwell on too much you'll go running in the opposite direction.   Money or lack of it, finding a job, what happens on the 10th December when Air Lingus deposits me back in Buckinghamshire with a pat on the back and about twenty lever arch files of recipes.  I am trying to concentrate on the magic of momentum; of living in the moment when there is possibility, to be excited about the land of opportunity where you take the wave and ride the hell out of it.  Just do it.  Don't think about it too much. Believe and make it happen.  So, thats what I am doing.  I am manifesting my next move.   A series of conversational supper clubs from my own home, (hey it worked for Clove Club and Pidgin both of which started as pop-ups / supper clubs), developing a product range that will sell at farmers markets under my brand Kitchen & Soul.  Looking at what community value I can bring through Kitchen & Soul.  I am really interested at looking at loneliness and how connection through cooking can create a sense of togetherness.  It's all going on. Brain hyperdrive.

So how am I feeling after a weekend break at home?  Well I am feeling better now I have replenished my socks, I was getting dangerously low, the sock thief is still at large and I don't trust that they will retire anytime soon. I  am looking forward to cracking on with it and seeing what else the next 6 weeks bring.  I am looking forward to feeling more confident and upping my game.  I feel to take more on and stretch myself, if I can.  10's I am coming to get you.

Let's get to it, here's the round-up

  1. My piping bag is MIA this is causing me some out of perspective concern
  2. What if there has been an armogeddon on the piping bags in Ireland and that's it no more piping for Shah?
  3. See point 1
  4. Carrot cake made with white carrots doesn't have the same effect, I feel the orange carrot bit is part of the appeal.  However we eat from the land people and white was what the land threw up
  5. I did score a 10 for my cake though FYI, me and cakes are firm friends, again odd, ironic, call it what you will

Until next week...

Nadra Shah