Location: Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
What is a jumper chicken? A just question to be sure. Until quite recently, I too was one of you: in the dark with regards to the nature of this mysterious beast. However, I have since stepped into the light of understanding of what it is to be one of the legions of the jumper. Firstly, you must take a jumper (or what you might also refer to as a sweater) that is ideally slightly too big, insert your legs down the sleeves so that your feet take the spot normally held by your hands, and then put your head into the spot normally occupied by your head. To do this requires no small amount of flexibility – if I do say so myself – in that whilst holding your head somewhere between your ankles, you must also bring your hips far enough forward so that your arms and torso fill the body of the garment. Thus armed, you are nearly ready. For added effect, take some panpipes and some music that is rarely heard in conjunction with panpipes,, and even Rip Van Winkle would spring up from his slumber. This was my chosen method of wake up this morning – something I’ve been looking forward to for some time.
The early morning excitement didn’t stop there, though. I recently learned that in the state of New Jersey, the night before Halloween is commonly known as “mischief night.” I’m still a little hazy as to what this means, but regardless Smash, and Sam took their duty of carrying out said mischief very seriously as everyone emerged into a salon this morning in which they had set a giant spider’s web that had caught everyone’s shoes, and I woke up face-to-face with a recently carved pumpkin.
After breakfast and oceanography, group two got to head out for their cooking class with Aleksander and Evelina. Our class started with a dish we were told we would have to pay great attention to as it was very complicated. To the untrained eye, it looked a lot like boiling potatoes in salt water, and I’m afraid that is still the best explanation I have for the gastronomic symphony that resulted in an hour or so later after they were topped by a terrific salsa garnish prepared by Marion with some handy hints and tips from Aleksander. We then all moved onto a Gazpacho. I’m reliably informed that this dish actually arrived on the Iberian peninsula with the Romans, and like potatoes, it’s a classic for a reason. We showed varying degrees of success in final execution, but this combination of blended veg again provided a result greater than the sum of its parts.
All of this was but a warm-up, a tickle of the taste buds, a tantalizing glimpse of what lay in store when we moved onto the business of paella. In a more pensive moment of reflection we were caught wondering how it was that rice came to be in Spain in the first place, so once again after a little digging I can reveal that it seems to have been brought to Spain as early as the 10th century, and it was a hit. So much so that paella is viewed by many as the national dish of Spain. But like so many things, there is more to this shallow frying pan of delight than meets the eye. Avery for example had to contend with the prospect of crushing the brains out of prawn shells, an unnerving experience to say the least – particularly for the prawn. Similarly, the process involves removing the pan from the heat, putting it on a “heat resistant” corkboard, and then putting it back on the burner again. Much to his dismay, Andrew discovered that these cork mats can be prone to sticking to the bottom of your pan, and then can be equally prone to burning if accidentally put on the flame. After dousing the mat, we were able to get back into the dish and round off what was a hugely enjoyable and successful day out.
Now, we’re all back to the boat for a few more days of academics and activities before moving over to Tenerife for our final preparations in advance of our crossing over to the Caribbean.
Pictured: Smash and Emma; the view from our cooking stations; Emma and Liam; Sophia adjusting her chef’s cap; Margaux observing Andrew’s technique; Anna enjoying the food and the view.