During all this time (school, uni, first years as a professional) I cooked once in a while. My favourite dishes to prepare were cebiche (raw fish marinated in lime juice with onions, chillies, sweet potato, and corn) and pasta. I baked desserts once in a while, too.
As mentioned before, I had a new friend called gastritis, who magically appeared around the time when I started traveling for work. Whoever thinks that traveling as part of your job is cool has obviously never done it or has a job that doesn’t involve programming software in the client’s office. Anyway, I had a few trips over the world, I really enjoyed having the opportunity of visiting places like Hong Kong, but I hated the stress and long hours that were involved in almost all of my trips.
On June 2005 I was in Mexico City, programming an accounting software and wondering what should I do with my life. As I left the office at lunch time and went to this cool restaurant in which you built your own salad with really yummy ingredients, it stroke me like lightning. I knew I wanted to cook for a living.
I stayed a few weeks in Mexico and after getting home I started getting quotes from all cooking schools I knew of. Le Cordon Bleu was my first choice but it was really expensive and classes were only at daytime (meaning I would have had to quit my job and lose the money income I needed for the tuition fee). Most options were unviable because of the starting times but there was this school just a block away from my office with a one-year program in which classes started at 6:30 pm. That sounded perfect, so I started studying on September 2005. I told my boss that I wouldn’t be able to travel anymore during the next year because I had enrolled in a course (I didn’t mention what kind, but he eventually found out).
I was very short of time at that moment but still managed to train, work, study, be in a band, and have a boyfriend. Soon after starting the program I began preparing desserts and selling them at my office and my sister’s office. So my typical day was something like this:
6 am: Wake up
7 am: Taekwondo or weights
8 am: Take a shower and go to the office
6:30 pm: Get out of the office, walk 100 meters, wait until being able to cross safely the Javier Prado avenue, enter the cooking school, change my clothes and go into the classroom/kitchen
Anywhere between 9:30 and 11:50 pm: Go home. Three days a week prepare desserts and package them.
Go to sleep.
I had lunch with Alvaro (my current husband) on Wednesdays and spent more time with him on weekends. On Saturdays, after going to the gym, I met him in his kung fu class and then we went to his house. On Sundays I played tennis, had lunch and went to rehearse with the band. Alvaro went with me and read a book or something while we rehearsed.
This went on for a while until my energy was completely depleted. First I stopped playing tennis, then I started skipping training days. I gained weight as a consequence of cooking and tasting food every day, but I tried to adhere to my eating and training plans outside from the classes. Later I quit the band.
I noticed a few things changing within me during that year (besides my body fat, of course). One is that I became increasingly interested in nutrition. I began to think that maybe that was another career path I should think about (I still think that, but haven’t done anything about it yet).
The other thing is that my palate evolved very quickly as a response to constant exposure to prime quality ingredients and dishes prepared by top chefs. While it was true that my interest for highly processed foods decreased as a result of my healthy eating awareness, my tastebuds started to demand better prepared food. This is what anyone would from cookery students, but I was surprised to see that the vast majority in my class chose KFC for group lunches and fried super fresh salmon and sole sashimi as soon as the Japanese Cuisisine teacher left the kitchen.
I began to truly appreciate all dimensions of food and wine: smell, texture, taste, depth, contrast, temperature, harmony, layout, colour, etc. Naturally, I started to expend more money, both when eating out and when buying groceries for cooking at home. My family and Alvaro got some side effects too: yummy food and body fat increase.