Wednesday, 30 January 2008
And thee, a turner!
Have you ever made a boat out of a courgette? What about a barrel out of a potato? A whole chess set out of carrots perhaps? No? Then you haven't lived. The art of turning vegetables is a craft as useful as macrame or writing names on grains of rice and it's refusing to go the way of the Dodo.
Turning has been practiced for centuries, possibly even millenia. In 1772, the first recorded visitor to Easter Island, Jacob Roggeveen, was astounded by rows of giant sculpted marrows facing the ocean, each one 'turned' to take on a human form. In 1927 the faces of four former US presidents were successfully carved into the side of a turnip and became the inspiration for the cliff face now known as Mount Rushmore.
As trainee chefs, the very survival of this art form is unfortunately in our rather clumsy hands. By the sound of it, a global recession is guaranteed if we don't master our seven-sided potato barrels.
Looking around the kitchen I see faces contorted in concentration, tongues wedged in cheeks, and failed courgette boats littering the workstations. It feels like an episode of The Generation Game where couples try and follow the example of a master craftsman with huge comedic potential. Sadly though, our whittled courgettes have no hilarious phallic qualities and there's no Brucie to whip up the audience. What do points make? Prizes. But there are no prizes today, just sad-looking, odd-shaped bits of vegetable and no one seems to care.