It’s been 4 weeks since I hugged goodbye to my newest old friends at the Plate to Page Workshop in Weimar, Germany. We may have only met four days earlier, but we all instantly bonded like members of the same tribe . . . which I guess, we were.
On May 19th after a long, yet strangely restful flight, followed by a delayed train ride from Berlin, M and I arrived at Weimar in the middle of a sunny afternoon. From the moment we stepped outside the station, the next days went by like a ride on a food blogger roller coaster— fast twists, many surprise turns, high adrenalin, and much more than what I had expected. As with any roller coaster, I wanted to keep on riding.
Before Weimar, the only people I had chatted with extensively were Plate to Page instructors, Jamie, Meeta, and Jeanne. Soon after they released the list of students on Twitter, the participants organized among themselves for a pre-workshop dinner for the early arrivals. We chose a Turkish restaurant in town. (Looking for authentic Turkish cuisine in Germany may sound like an odd quest, but the large immigrant and native-born Turkish population provides the ample opportunity to sample Zeytin Yağlı [vegetarian] dishes and traditional kebabs).
On Friday May 20, the day the Workshop officially commenced, I woke up to the odd but somehow soothing bahhhh of sheep in the nearby meadow. Combined with our longer sleep and unfamiliar surroundings, we were definitely in our vacation mode and not in NYC. We would have stayed in that mode if it weren’t for the hustling of some eager attendees on their way out to explore Weimar . . . seriously, eight thirty in the morning? With the less jet-lagged off to tour the big town, we had a quick breakfast and a much needed caffeine injection so we could explore the village calm near the Kipperquelle Hotel. We met the friendly sheep, who ambled up to the fence when we approached but lost interest when we didn’t offer any edibles. Oh, the temporary peacefulness of it all.
The welcome luncheon was jovial, and just when we had all settled into the light-heartedness of it all, the instructors officially kicked off the Workshop with their opening remarks. Before you could say Nikon, we were swept upstairs into the classroom. There were energetic discussions about food blogging, writing, and photography—followed by official assignments and unofficial shots of any morsel of food in camera range.
Another favorite composition was pictures of other attendees taking photos. These images of each other became the subject of as much chatter as those of food styling. Such shared moments not on the syllabus brought important insights, too, such as finally understanding low-light photography. By Friday afternoon, everyone settled into the spirited workshop mode. Trepidation came when the participants read their assignments or presented their images. Leaders’ and attendees’ willingness to engage and be supportive eased the spotlight jitters for many.
The workshop Meeta, Ilva, Jamie, and Jeanne assembled provided my fellow students and I with great insights into how good blogs work and guidance to improve our writing and photography. The sessions and side conversations were a collection of “a-ha” moments. Those few days fueled my creative energy and made me think of new ways to tell stories about food.
While pondering the newly acquired techniques of food writing during the rest of the trip, I was armed with more understanding of cameras, so all of those knobs and adjustments no longer intimidated me. I came away with more optimism for possible new directions (and perhaps a bit too much urgent enthusiasm to buy a new DSLR).
The muleta or red flag snaps swiftly and the crowd sucks a collective breath in. Then a roar, thunderous, reverberates around the arena. The air is thick with excitement and bloodlust. The Torero’s sword is removed with little drama and the bull thuds to the ground, almost as if in slow motion. The toreo is crowned the ultimate victory.
What becomes of the bull thereafter?
Toro de carne or meat from a toro bravo, a fighting bull is considered the ultimate luxury in many parts of Spain. Whilst the act of bull fighting has been banned by the Catalan government, the meat is available at La Boqueria market in Barcelona, one of the world’s most renowned food markets. Standing side by side with stalls of perfectly arranged fruit shining like glossy jewels, the torro de carne stand sits proudly, displaying pictures of Victor Valdes the most beloved and illustrious Matedors of the past three decades.
“I know many have an issue with torro de carne”, says Pax Costa a local lecturer at The food Science department at the University, “but my family and I love it. It’s expensive and an indulgence. I would serve it on special occasions she explains. With Spanish paprika, garlic and pink peppercorns, it’s a thing of beauty. “If you think about it, “she continues, animals are killed in many ways for consumption. No one raises an eyebrow”
The Animal Rights fraternity has boycotted the practice of bull fighting fervently. 78% of Catalans when polled in the recent PETA survey have voted against the practice.
Would you eat the meat of torro de carne?
- Feature statistics
- Three opinions
- Invite opinion sharing
photo courtesy of Julia House
standing: Deborah, David, Ken (me) Jamie, Mona, Ishay, Arthi, Astrid, Simone, Meeta, Mitch, Jasmine, Julia; kneeling: Jenn, Ilva, Jeanne
Above all, Plate to Page had provided us with a supportive environment. I never got so comfortable, so fast with a group of people. Everyone brought their positive vitality to this Workshop and the entire experience was nothing short of brilliant. I will forever cherish this time with my kindred folk, my tribe.
Posts about Plate to Page, Weimar:-
Arthi – Ending on a High Note
Arthi – Reliving the Plate2Page Experience
Astrid – Who Would Have Thought…?
Ilva – Plate to Page Weimar 2011 – The Review
Jamie – From Plate to Page
Jasmine – Plate to Page Workshop
Jeanne – Plate to Page, Weimar – the Super Troupers
Jenn – Plate to Page Workshop
Meeta – We Met in Weimar
Meeta – Plate to Page – Putting the Work back into Workshop
Móna – Life Changing, It Was
Móna – Life Changing it Was, Part 2
Móna – Life Changing it Was, Part 3
Móna – All in a Days Work
Plate to Page – Weimar Impressions, the first Plate to Page Workshop
Simone – Plate to Page – Experience of a Lifetime
Simone – Metaphors, Similes, and What it’s All About
Thank you to all of our sponsors for making this event an amazing experience.