This always happens to me. I'm interested in something. I learn a little on my own, or I learn a lot on my own, but not in any organized way. Then I want more information, so I seek professional instruction on the subject. The instructor talks to me and tells me no I don't belong in the beginners' course, so I start straight in at the intermediate level, and promptly get in trouble for having missed something vital in my self-study. (Sometimes I do take the beginners' course, which risks making me bored and distracted and thus missing something that way). If I have one-on-one instruction I say, "don't assume I know anything" but they find out I know X and Z and assume I know Y, without me knowing that there is any interpolation going on. And then later mayhem ensues because I lack all knowledge of Y.
Fortunately, the way aviation is set up in Canada, the system is rigourous and demands that the instructor that sends you through to the next level has seen you complete each qualifying exercise to standard, and can't assume that X + Z implies Y. This is good, because my early aviation education was similar, with me learning what was interesting from books and online, and then being taken up by a friend for doezens of touch and goes, until I could land an airplane by rote without having practiced any of the underlying skills. If you're interested enough in a thing to want to learn it right with no shortcuts it is beneficial to do it from the beginning even if you already know some, provided the ab initio instructor knows what they are doing. You pick up things that true ab initio students miss. (If the instructor is just winging it, you get in trouble, because you're picking up on the stuff the instructor is faking).
My latest episode of learning just enough to get into trouble seems to be cooking. I would say that I can cook. I can buy ingredients, i.e. things from the grocery store or farmers' market that don't have any ingredients listed on the side and produce meals that make me say "yum." But I want to be able to make five dishes featuring a random secret ingredient within an hour and have them look like the ones on Iron Chef. And I want to be able to grab a live cow standing in a field of grain, and turn it into a perfect hamburger. That's right, I'm a Food Network addict.
It sort of makes me wish that I was hooked on the Food Network twenty years ago instead of science fiction. Imagine if the brain cells now occupied by Star Trek and Ray Bradbury trivia were full of information on how to properly braise and marinate and accent. Now I'm hooked on food. But the Food Channel isn't really a good vehicle for learning more about cooking. The shows that tell me how to actually make the food with any kind of step by step instructions are telling me how to make hummus as if it was an amazing reveal that it's made out of chickpeas and sesame paste, or giving detailed steps for making spaghetti sauce, pausing for me to gasp at the idea that it doesn't come out of a can. Once the shows pass the "cute guy or gal reads a recipe at you" mode, they leap over a vast gulf of techniques and generalizations into the territory of ultra elite chefs making things I don't know the names of by processes I'm not certain how to reproduce, faster than the untrained eye can follow. I guess there are lots of people who would like to know something about cooking, a lot who like to marvel at what the experts can produce, and not enough to be a viable market segment who want to know the how of the in-between part.
I looked up a fancy cooking course and discovered that professional chef training will set you back about as much as a commercial pilot licence. I guess good food costs more than avgas. Instead of flying to New York and signing up for an elite cooking course, I order the course textbook. I could focus every moment of my life single-mindedly on aviation progress, but a girl's got to eat. She might as well do it well.
Do I have any readers who are professional chefs? Or do you know of a fun professional cooking blog? (I already know Cake Wrecks, of course).
One thing about watching the world's best chefs prepare itty bitty exquisitely-presented portions of stunning food is that you aren't tempted to down platter-filling glop in the name of sustenance. Seeing how good food could be, actually helps me not overeat.
Last night's meal was eaten while reading the local paper. I was offered a choice of two: the provincial paper and the town one. The town one was a lot thicker, but I had read t at breakfast so I opted for the local one. "Is it exciting?" I joked to the guy at the hotel desk
"There's a goose on the cover," he said, his inflection managing to find a little strip of territory that was neither sarcastic nor falsely enthusiastic. And so there was: a Canada goose, photographed standing on one foot on the edge of the frozen river. It didn't get any more exciting inside. There weren't even any dead bodies.
And then I get a text from one of the apprentices who has been working on the airplane. The airplane is ready and she'll pick me up at 7:30 tomorrow morning to get it.