Passion is a curious thing. “Great enthusiasm, the object of this; strong emotion,” defines my Oxford American Dictionary. But simply “great enthusiasm” sounds rather bland and everyday, these words carefully chosen and written in black on white in my much thumbed, beloved book belie the exuberance, fail to capture the energy and enthusiasm bespoke in this one word. Passion inspires a rapturous, unadulterated exhilaration, pure pleasure bordering on madness, a willingness to forget all else when once the object of said passion is encountered, even an earnest readiness to bare one’s soul prompted by the hungry craving to indulge in one’s own passion. “Strong emotion” transforms into frenzy, an incredibly intense devotion, Pygmalion’s passionate love for his sculpture.
One year carved out of our lives, Jeanne, Ilva, Meeta and I, chipping away at the hard surface of time and place, searching for the beauty that lies beneath in our own passionate attempt to create something that meant so much to us, giving birth to our own Galatea, wrapping her sensuous marble nakedness in silk and draping pearls and rubies around her elegant neck. As the days flew by and the planning moved from mellow, thoughtful movements to a frenzied dance, as the time approached and our pick and hammer began hacking desperately at the surface in our desire to reveal her perfect proportions, to run our fingers over the smooth, cool surface of the finished product, to embrace our creation in all of her glory, our passion was blended and tempered by the fear of imperfection, our wavering self-confidence breathing hesitation and doubt into our days. Yet there was no turning back, and we would never have even considered it! Our desire, growing larger and deeper each day, was overwhelming and we knew that From Plate to Page just had to be created. So with the final click of metal on marble, as the last swipes of the cloth burnished and polished the surface to perfection, we packed our bags, boarded planes and trains and were whisked off to that land unknown, ready – or not – to unveil our chef d’oeuvre to a waiting public.
Passion is a curious thing. What forms this connection to, this desperate urge for one object? For some it is sport, for others shoes, for yet others something more esoteric and ethereal. It can be selfish, the yearning to claim something for one’s own, sheltered from all prying eyes or grasping fingers. It can be overwhelming, pervasive, all-encompassing in its total exclusion of all else until exhaustion leads to total downfall. Or it can be intoxicating, stimulating creativity, inspiring a generosity to share, the hunger to learn, igniting a fire that is infectious causing giddy laughter, zealous chatter and the loosening of all timidity or fear of exposure and ridicule.
For a truly passionate lover of words such as I, there is no better word to describe our first From Plate to Page workshop than passion. Once the first (and second, not to mention third) round of hugs was given to each attendee as they arrived, amid the screeches and giggles as of a first day at camp, we felt the enthusiasm bubble up to the surface and spill over into every movement, every sentence uttered. The activities began immediately, sharing ideas and provoking thought and discussion, handing out exercises like candy to eager children. Yes, yes, there was a fair share of groans and rolled eyes as the first test of their power was handed to them on pink post-it notes. Scratched heads, the occasional burst of laughter, the mumblings of doubt and grumblings of not enough time, but in a matter of seconds the passion kicked in and the room was soon filled with the heady haze of creativity. And as the weekend rolled by, amid the clatter of forks and knives, the clicking of cameras, the scraping of pen on paper or the clickety-clack of fingers rushing along keyboard, the love of food, images and words, the overwhelming urge to learn and improve, the appetite to share rose like beauty from a clump of earth and our common passion brought us together in perfect rhythm and unison. The fragrance of roasting lamb and fresh, sweet strawberries, the tickle of bubbles of sparkling white wine and the intensity of cured meats and sharp cheeses, the groans of pleasure of 16 food bloggers while biting into warm, buttery kouignettes enjoyed late in the afternoon or the rambunctious sing-along to ABBA blasted from laptops, the cracking of crab shells and ticking of wine glasses lifted in toast after toast illuminated a truly enjoyable, animated, intense weekend.
Jeanne, Ilva, Meeta and I were amazed at this passion bordering on obsession, thrilled with the flow of positive energy from each participant. Our every wish was granted when we experienced such harmony, the dynamics between the group whether working together as a group, in pairs or individually was like some perfect creation. We feared Frankenstein and we ended up with My Fair Lady.
I took so much home with me, my baggage filled to overflowing with not only inspiration and ideas but memories and friendships strong and lasting. That common bond, that shared passion brought us together and infused the entire weekend with laughter and song, great food and industry. It fed my own passion and my vision and it has convinced me of the power of community.
And now as the words begin to flow again, I can’t but help think of more and more that are so fitting to the Plate to Page weekend and all that the participants exuded: dedication, devotion to their craft, honesty in their work and in their friendship, spirit with a touch of moxie thrown in for good measure, zeal tempered with humility, motivation and persistence to hone their skills and create something of quality, something to be proud of. Not to forget generosity and goodness as well as unbounded glee and wit bordering at times on buffoonery.
There's a fire within my soul
Just one look and I can hear a bell ring
One more look and I forget everything, w-o-o-o-oh
Just a quick word of thanks to our amazing sponsors: our main sponsor Bord Bia (The Irish Food Board), Wines of South Africa, Hotel Chocolat, Prokit UK, Maison Georges Larnicol, OXO, Ergo Chef Knives, Sweet Pete’s and the lovely Paula Walters. Their amazing generosity allowed us not only to offer superb gifts to our participants, but they helped make this fantastic weekend possible and much more tasty and fun!
And a warm fuzzy thanks to my colleagues and sisters, Ilva, Meeta and Jeanne (my stunning co-wordsmith and writing instructor); where would I be without you three? xo