Upgrading Courses # 1: Specialized Cooking featuring European Cuisine
Understanding European Cuisine
I've been on board commercial vessels, since 2001.
As a cook trainee, I've been assigned to be the assistant of my Greek chef. I was a graduate of Catering course and it paved the way to land me a job in the galley of a Greek vessel, as one of the main principals of the shipping agency where my former maritime school is connected. The school has been supplying officers and ratings to the said Greek shipping since then.
As part of my routine in the galley (ship's kitchen), I've been tasked to bake Greek bread, cut many kinds of cheeses, prepare the salad and even cook for the Greek officers and ratings, as my Greek cook have health issues (with permission from the agency to work on board).
Anyway, hardships of being an apprentice with my Greek chef gave me a lot to thank for.
I've been able to understand European cuisine and how the battle for clinching as Europe's 'mother cuisine' can be attributed to Greek cooking.
Well, before you argue with me, I've started upgrading my career as ship's cook and this time, our chef instructor-assessor assigned us to concentrate on Russian cooking as part of European cuisine.
You see, the people of the said former communist nation have to be proud of with its cuisine. As it is, unknowingly, been modified or adapted in the Western world and even here in Asia and my country, Philippines, too!
For the Russian cuisine, it may be related-part and parcel, with German and Scandinavian cuisines due to its close involvement with these parts of Europe.
Have you ordered beef salad(with apples and beans? Or are you familiar with beef kebabs (barbecue)?How about chicken kiev? Or the popular eggs stuffed with mushrooms?
Whether you frequent the local restaurants or prepare those mentioned dishes at home, you'll come closer to the homes of Europeans, as much as I did cooking and preparing popular dishes with fellow ship's cooks attending our five-day training.
Upgrading Course on European Cuisine
Now, that many Filipino seafarers are competing against each other in order to land contracts for works at the deck, engine and galley on board ships, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) of the Philippines extended its upgrading courses into a new level with the help of TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority).
For an aging sailor, like me, it's high time to grasp back and control my memory gap when it come to perfecting my European cuisine.
I need this, as much as it is required by the government and by the shipping agency where I belong right now in order to satisfy the palate of the officers and ratings that I'll be working with.
My Featured Dishes on European CuisineClick thumbnail to view full-size
Recipes of European Cuisine on the third day of training
Literally, we got to choose the dish we are going to cook in the morning of the third day based from the available local ingredients provided by the training center and of course from the monetary aspect which our batch contributed with the aid of the manning agencies, OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) and our personal expenses.
Our chef-instructor/assessor gave us his set of recipes for European Cuisine. Some have chosen Danish, Greek, Russian, German and what fell on my grasp is a French dish called Fish en Papillote.
Not an ample preparation to look for the right utensils, since everyone were agog in finishing each other's dish fish, I had to resort to this 10-15 minuter-dish.
The result was not a mediocre one as our instructor-chef-assessor tasted my dish.
For the second phase of cooking the next day (Thursday), he gave us instruction to choose the dish close to our hearts and expertise.
I've chosen Ginatzi, a rice-stuffed tomato and bell pepper recipe from Greek cuisine. Although, modified recipe included bits of chopped bacon or ham, I stick to the old recipe of not including the fusion-type or modern recipe.
Other European Dishes presented by my fellow cooksClick thumbnail to view full-size
European Cooking-Country and People
I am always in awe with Europe as it also means beautiful places to visit, good food to eat and people to befriend with.
My experiences as a sailor brought me first to the land of my ancestors, Spain. That old, sunny Spain where nightlife is synonymous with good summer weather through the year. That was 2002 when the humid air of the country mesmerized me to try sitting at the stall near the facade of Las Palmas where I gained not only the food and drinks I've tasted but also my ancestry.
Liverpool, England, where the most famous band Beatles came from also brought happy memories to me.
Italy and that 'spaghetti memories' where I should expound to another hub is part of this hubber's seaman's life. I still crave of that four-seasons pizza which was baked in a traditional way using the old but reliable brick oven (or we call pugon here in the Philippines).
I'll crave for the authentic shawarma in Turkey and it happened when our container ship became a liner in the Mediterranean and Black Sea, still in 2002.
The food of Ukraine brought me closer to Russia whenever I order chicken kiev during our night out with fellow seafarers.
Oh, the warm people of Varna, Bulgaria where I market fresh produce at the village market will always linger in my mind.
At Le Havre, France I didn't have the opportunity to go ashore, but the craving for that chicken cordon bleu never stops as I always included it in my menu on board ship and the ever famous French fries.
Hamburg and Brunsbuttel, Germany gave us afternoon breaks to enjoy warm welcome at seaman's center with burgers, potato fries and karaoke plus the drinks.I almost went to Koln (Cologne), Germany if only my Filipino master allowed me to see and visit my cousin-aunt who is already a resident of the said country, along with her family.
Antwerp, Belgium gave us the same treatment when it comes to hospital people of Europe. I will disagree with that 'snob' impression that other people remarked with most of the Europeans.
Although, food prices in Norway is somewhat high than the rest of Europe, its ice cream is something you will never forget.
To sum it up, the food, drinks and the people of Europe are not different with the rest of the world.
Our afternoon session in cooking European dishes during the third dayClick thumbnail to view full-size
Characteristics of European Cuisine
Breakfast consist of bread, cheese and cold meat. Bead and butter or open sandwiches with jam, cheese is being served for breaskfast along with tea, milk or buttermilk. Sometimes, they serve breakfast with boiled eggs, sunny-side up, scrambled eggs with sausages, ham or bacon. Some prefer cereal, as favored by most children.
I'll say, Europeans are opt for brunch or breakfast with lunch, as it is usually served between ten or eleven in the morning. Cups of coffee with cream or milk is usually served with buttered bread or cake.
At lunchtime, they usually eat with bread, They have meat dishes and ended their meals with fruits or resort to making coffee.Most people eat a light lunch of a sandwich or salad.
Most dinner includes meat or fish, potatoes and vegetables.Later in the evening, people like to drink beer, wine or gin or just to enjoy the night with family or friends.
Our 100% Cooperation inside the Galley of the Training CenterClick thumbnail to view full-size
Hits and misses on European Cuisine
I was actually concentrating on my preparation, cooking and plating.
I lost time recognizing what kind of European dishes my co-chefs prepared.
As much as I can appreciate photographing each presentation, our chef-assesor/instructor noted that we can't afford to collate all the ingredients for our chosen dishes.
Local markets can't provide fresh herbs needed for our specialty cuisine.
Adjustments on the ingredients made some dishes dull and less authentic as compared to its counterpart in a true European restaurants.
Our fourth-day performance on European cuisineClick thumbnail to view full-size
Fifth day of our performances on European cuisineClick thumbnail to view full-size
This hubber is indebted to:
- Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for sponsoring my free training
- Blueridge Pacific Training Center
- Chef Virgilio Esguerra & Chef Noel M. Itable, our two patient chef-instructors
- My fellow Filipino ship's cooks, Antonio Almo Jr., Albert Joseph C. Baniel, Danilo Tagra, Alfredo Pascual & Jay-R Abarca
Note: I'll be updating the names of some dishes that I've included here.
European Travel Skills: Eating and Drinking courtesy of: Rick Steves Europe Channel
Cookbook on European Cuisine
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