Jack’s “can’t” and I’m definitely “won’t” in this little saga. We’re back from Barcelona now, but I’ve got so many stories to record! This one is all about the cooking course that was Jack’s bright idea to enroll us on…we had so much fun, but I thanked god during every minute of it for the free and unlimited supply of wine…

I’ve got to admit, I’m a bit of a coward when it comes to putting myself forward in front of people. Being the centre of attention in a room full of strangers is definitely not my thing, especially doing something I know I’m not great at, and my husband certainly did not marry me for my culinary skills. But Jack really wanted to do it and so, in the spirit of marriage and all the compromises and sacrifices involved with it etcetera, etcetera, I agreed to give it a go.

The first thing I got wrong

I assumed, and I’ve no idea where this assumption has originated from, that in a cooking course there would be a chef, we’d have individual work stations, and we would copy what he did step by step. No such luck! We were all working around one large bench in the middle of the kitchen, and were each given individual tasks to carry out that would all contribute to the 4 course meal at the end.

Why was this a problem? Firstly, because by the time Luis, our chef, started explaining how to make the third course, I’d forgotten what he’d said about the first and second courses! My solution to the problem: drink more wine. My second concern was that I would be directly responsible for food that other people were going to eat. My solution: drink again.

The starter; should be easy, right?

The wine I had drunk by the time Luis had explained the four courses had started to numb my senses and cloud my awareness, and, consequently, I was eternally grateful to Jack when he quickly volunteered us for the starter dish, the easiest one. However, when we got to the work station I was faced with an onion, some pears, and a pumpkin. I fought Jack for custody of the onion; at least it was a food I’d had experience of before.

The pumpkin stumped me for a while? Where do you start with that one?! Jack and I took half each and diced away, though, in a show of masculinity, his diced pieces were bigger than my diced pieces. Guess it doesn’t matter when it’s going to be blended.

The piece de resistance

If you really want to make a holy show of yourself in a cooking class use the wrong stock. Pour the fish stock, specially made beforehand with monkfish heads for the paella, onto the vegetables for the soup. After 10 or 15 minutes, ask the chef to come over to have a look, and force him to drain the incorrect stock out of the pan and then pour the correct stock in instead.

The worst of this catastrophe is that Jack and I had debated which container of stock we were to use. Unfortunately, because we’d had a little too much wine between us and couldn’t really be bothered waiting to hassle the chef with our menial questions, we made the extremely cavalier decision to just pick one. And so Jack did. The wrong one.

By this time I’d realised and come to terms with the fact that I was never going to be earning any Michelin stars, and was finding comfort over stock-gate in my glass(es) of wine.

The final result

The food was gorgeous! The soup Jack and I can (laughingly) take responsibility for was absolutely delicious; butternut squash soup, and a recipe I will definitely be trying for the two of us when we can get rid of the boys for a night. Jack’s favourite was the Spanish omelette, which was incredibly tasty. The paella was also amazing (think I’m running out of adjectives!), but, in Jack’s words, “it’s a lot of effort for the result”. I was quite pleased about this really, as I’d made a sausage and chorizo paella the previous week, following the easiest recipe I could find (from the BBC Good Food site), that was, if I do say so myself, quite marvellous. Jack, rather wisely, and very quietly, admitted to me that he preferred mine.

“The food talks to you; listen to what it’s saying”

These were the magical words of wisdom our lovely chef imparted upon us. Shame in my case they’re absolutely futile. I have anosmia, which means I can’t smell. This makes life a little difficult sometimes. In this case, I can’t hear the food “talking” because by “talking”, our chef meant the different foods release different smells that indicate you need to add the next ingredient or do something to it. This is actually great news for me because Luis has unwittingly provided me with the perfect excuse for my limited cooking skills! It was pretty funny when the chef passed around a jar of spices for us to smell though. Normally, I’m really good at fake-smelling, but because I was so drunk Jack said it was hilarious because I merely put the jar to my nose and immediately passed it on to him, with no attempt at whatsoever at “faking it” effectively!

Can YOU recommend me some dishes?

This experience has awakened in me some, albeit vague, desire to expand my repertoire of dishes. The paella I tried the other week was surprisingly good, and nowhere near as complicated as I’d thought it would be! I think Jack needs a bit of a kick up the bum though when it comes to trying out new dishes, but perhaps a new kitchen from Silver Chef is just the thing we need to get his interest in cooking kick-started.

So, ladies, consider this my desperate plea to you for ideas! I’m looking for recipes that are easy to follow, and include cheap ingredients! CAN ANYONE HELP?!

Thanks for reading!

Ella xxx