How I Restarted Playing the Piano // Pork Loin with Honey and Mustard

Without a piano I don’t know how to stand, don’t know what to do with my hands.

– Norah Jones.

I started playing the piano when I was very young. I didn’t always go to piano classes because we moved to different countries quite a bit so I didn’t always have a teacher. Then when I began university, I stopped altogether because the conditions I had to play were “scary” – but that is another story that I’ll save for another day.

About seven years ago, I was down, like something was missing in my life. Mr. H. suggested that I should get a cheap piano (if there is such thing) and restart. We bought a cheap piano and I contacted my friend, now my piano teacher and, above all, one of my best friends ever. He convinced me to give him and his grand piano a visit.

So there I went. I was terrified that I would look at the notes and not remember anything, that I would have forgotten all the theory and that my fingers would not remember what to do. After some persuasion, I sat at the beautiful grand piano, completely unsure of myself.

He put a simple score sheet in front of me and said: can you play this? I nervously put both hands on the keys, my right foot on the pedal,… and played it! Wow!

He made me play more pieces that were progressively more difficult, until it got to the point that my fingers couldn’t freely do it anymore. That was the point where he knew that we could retake it from there. It was a genius way of making me realise that yes, I do remember how to play, and especially to figure out the level where I was at. We restarted my classes with some Satie and Bach. Even though I adore listening to both, it soon became apparent that my thing was sad Chopin music.

I have crowned my piano teacher as the best piano teacher in the world. Remember that I have had various teachers from various countries, and I am grateful to each and every one of them for transmitting their knowledge and legacy to me. But for me he is the best, because he really listens to what I do and watches how I do it, to make me improve in my own personal way.

Just as with Norah Jones’ quote above, now I cannot imagine living my life without playing the piano. Even though it is just a hobby and don’t make a living out of it, it’s has a huge part in defining who I am. So I send a thank you to my piano teacher for his guidance. And another one to Mr. H. who always gets a tad jealous about this and says hey, it was his idea for me to restart in the first place. It’s true, thanks to Mr. H. too.

The pork loin with honey and mustard recipe for today was actually also taught to me by my piano teacher himself. I made a lazy adaption to his recipe in a way that I get to wash less utensils afterwards. Hey, it’s just being practical, right? I also added a few chili flakes because I’m in the middle of a chili flake obsession at the moment.

Pork loin with honey and mustard


600 pork loin, 2 teaspoons mustard, 2 teaspoons honey, 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, black pepper, chili flakes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put the pork loin on a baking tray and into the oven. Put all the other ingredients in a bowl and stir. After about 20 minutes, remove the pork loin from the oven, flip it over to the other side and spread the honey and mustard mixture on top. Roast for another 15 – 20 minutes.

Thank you for reading!

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  1. laurasmess 2014-05-18 at 14:13

    I love your introduction to this post Sofia. It’s been a very (very!) long time since I played the piano but I definitely understand your feeling for it. When I do find a piano and some silence to play, it’s like I’m expressing myself in a way that has long been forgotten. It’s another language, a clarity that doesn’t come through words. I really think I need to start playing again! Your piano teacher’s recipe looks beautiful. I love pork and the combination of honey, mustard and chilli (yay for chilli!) sounds divine! Thanks for sharing this with us xx

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-19 at 08:34

      Yes, thats the thing, with piano I can express myself in another language e without words, intimately. If you do want to start playing again, just go ahead, it’s’á fantastic feeling! xx

  2. alifemoment 2014-05-18 at 14:37

    Wow I loved the post and delicious recipe! 🙂

  3. Dalo 2013 2014-05-18 at 15:55

    What a great story…there needs to be something that stretches the imagination and for you to come back to playing again after so many years says a lot ~ congratulations. Something special about creating as well, and music is perhaps the most shared and loved of all the arts…outside of cooking, and you have that wired as well. Mr. H is probably all smiles after one of your great dishes!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-19 at 08:42

      All smiles after a dish: yes. All smiles after an 2 hours of the same repetition (and in slow motion) to learn a passage in a piece: not usually! 😉 Yeah I did go for a long stretch without playing and so something was wrong.
      Yesterday I went to the cinema with my piano teacher, and the film ended with one of the pieces I’m playing! We had a laugh over it. It’s also awesome to watch films and then suddenly go: oh I play this!
      Have a great week 🙂

      1. Dalo 2013 2014-05-19 at 10:44

        Ha, ha… I once had my best friend take my girlfriend shopping and his comment was “If I only had one day left to live, I would spend it with your girlfriend shopping…because she can make an hour seem like a lifetime…” I loved that quote (my girlfriend, not so much). Piano practice, I would imagine similar at times 🙂

        1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-19 at 10:54

          What a way to delegate your tasks haha! I think shopping with me might be easier (and a worse way to spend the last day of your life). 😉

          1. Dalo 2013 2014-05-19 at 11:26

            Yes, my excuse was “I really need to work” and then what was worse is I talked my best friend into taking a day off from his work to help her shop… 🙂

              1. Dalo 2013 2014-05-19 at 12:13

                Ha, no I have learned to take more responsibility these days 🙂

                1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-19 at 12:26

                  Well you could have had more insight and delegate it to someone that can carry the task out better, to a woman for example. (See I wouldn’t mind doing that).

                2. Dalo 2013 2014-05-19 at 12:37

                  Ha, ha…but then a whole new set of problems may be created 🙂

  4. Helen @ Scrummy Lane 2014-05-18 at 19:05

    I’m always grateful for great meat recipes, Sofia, because I don’t really have any idea how to cook it. My hubby loves meat, though, so I’d like to become a little more accomplished at it. Love the sound of that honey and mustard rub.
    And good for you for starting to play the piano again!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-19 at 08:46

      Hi Helen, how are you? I guess by your posts you are back in England now? As you know I’ve moved a lot and will move again in my life and it’s always stressful so I was thinking of you!
      You can try and cook this, it’s really easy and it’s usually impressive to the people that eat it and didn’t see how easy it was to make 😉

  5. Patty Nguyen 2014-05-19 at 01:47

    How great that you rediscovered your talent, Sofia! Mr. H definitely deserves some credit, right? 🙂 Also, your pork loin looks delicious and so moist!

  6. Bunny Eats Design 2014-05-19 at 02:17

    Maybe you have already seen this amazing piano player but just in case you haven’t:

    It’s so lovely that you have found piano again and that it makes you happy. I find it funny that this is your piano teacher’s recipe. When we are kids we find it hard to imagine that our teachers are anything except teachers. They disappear into mist when we aren’t at school.

    Looks nice and simple to me though. I adore the combination of honey and mustard! What do you usually serve this with?

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-19 at 08:51

      Thanks for the link Genie, I enjoyed it. I’ve done that before actually in a station in Barcelona when there was a piano. I played some Liszt and drew up a crowd 🙂 That’s true, when we are small teachers are just like a “robot” (to put it in one way) with a mission of teaching us certain subjects. When I see my friends now that are teachers, and the crazy things they get up to in their private life, I wonder if my teachers were like that too.
      I would normally serve this with some salad. Here I had no salad and just boiled some pasta. It looked ridiculous with the pasta so I didn’t photograph it!

  7. Mabel Kwong 2014-05-19 at 11:39

    This was a great story to read, Sofia and I empathised quite a bit with you. As one who has moved countries so much as a kid, it was hard keeping up with piano classes. When I was in Singapore, I had five piano teachers over the course of five years…all of them had different styles of teaching (and I could go on and on about them…). The sad thing was, a lot of my teachers felt that I was there at their classes because my Asian parents wanted me to “learn piano”. This really confused me and I think it has squeezed out some of my love for music within me 🙁 It took me almost four years to relax my wrist and curve my hand, as how many would play the piano. When playing the piano, I feel I can’t read the sheet music fast enough to “respond” to playing how I want the music to sound. Then there’s rhythm problems.

    Inspiring post, maybe I will sit down one day soon and create music one day. No one’s every too old, or too young, to create something as beautiful as music. Mr H is one lucky man – you give him food and music 😉

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-19 at 13:15

      Five teachers in five years is a lot Mabel. I’m lucky that in my case my parents never insisted in me playing, but it was myself that wanted to. It is also true that as a kid, many teachers are obsessed with theory and the right technique, when to tell you the truth I think that we are all different so our hands are a different size, as are our arms and we also have different styles. The amazing thing when we listen to the same pieces played by different artists, with exactly the same notes and same scoresheets, is that no two versions will sound the same (try listening to different versions of the same thing on YouTube!). So perhaps teachers need to stress less about being rigid and find the way for each individual to make it beautiful in their own way (thats what my teacher does). Don’t worry about the rhythm problem. In my first class a few years ago, my teacher told be to forget about the rigid rhythm. I’m a huge fan of rubato now (maybe too much).
      I hope you have a great week!

      1. Mabel Kwong 2014-05-19 at 14:06

        I’ve always wondered why some of us desire to learn a music instrument. Some feel that creating music is their calling, some do so for the fun of it, some because, as in your case, a part of them. I took piano lessons because my parents wanted me to – but I always loved music, I always sang along to songs on the radio in the car as a kid and I looked forward to music lessons in school.

        I think what went “wrong” with learning piano for me, as you touched upon, was the rigidness of my piano classes and the obsession to get things right. Shyness might have something to do with it too – I always didn’t like to play piano when people were around and was shy playing the triangle in the school orchestra.

        So true we’re all different. My left hand is bigger than my right. The former can reach an octave, but the latter can’t.

  8. apartmentwife 2014-05-19 at 20:14

    i’ve been on a chili flake kick lately too- makes everything just a bit more flavorful, yes? and how fitting that your beloved piano teacher would share a recipe with your foodie-self 🙂 you might have to upload a video of you playing for us sometime…

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-20 at 16:38

      Yes, now I would be happy if I could put chili flakes in all my food, and have ice cream for dessert 😉 I may one day who knows…

  9. Amanda 2014-05-20 at 00:14

    Great dish and beautiful story. There are a lot of things in life I feel that way about…It’s things like piano and the people who encourage you that make life worth living. We bring those lessons with us to all of our passions and the people with whom we interact. Love it.

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-20 at 16:39

      It’s true how we are all supposed to be courageous but when the people close to us encourage us to do things and put their passion into it, it makes a difference. xx

  10. pianolearner 2014-05-20 at 11:50

    Life without a piano is unimaginable. 🙂

  11. Michelle 2014-05-21 at 04:04

    The piano used to be a huge part of my life, too. Even in college which was, as you note, “scary” for someone like me who had no plan to be a real musician. I must, must, must get back into it. Thanks for the inspiration. Maybe what I need is a teacher with good recipes. 😉

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-05-21 at 12:07

      My “scary” part was something that happened that could perfectly ben the scene of a horror film 🙂 I must remember to write about it sometimes (because I can laugh about it now). I love how when I write about piano I discover so many people that play or have played it, and now you too. Yes, if the teacher has good recipes it’s a plus 😉

  12. Liz 2014-11-26 at 06:23

    so my daughters don’t have your passion exactly, but I can’t help think taking lessons is especially good for my youngest. She’s the one I struggle with the most for practicing (though she’s also the one I struggle the most with about everything, lol), but part of her issues are sensory-related and I her sense of rhythm–at least as described by her instructor–is phenomenal. So I have to think that taking lessons is doing her some good–a sort of therapy, really. For that, I’ll keep on her about getting through practice session. My oldest likes it well enough, but her passion seems to be more for the flute and sax. I played piano when I was younger as well (8 years or so?) and love to see my daughters showing interest in music. Were your parents musical in any way?

    1. Sofia 2014-11-28 at 16:05

      Neither of my parents are musical in any way! Yeah.. And they don’t particularly enjoy the classical music I like (when I get hardcore about it) so I can’t say that I grew up listening to it either. Well take it easy and see how your daughters so, something else may be their calling, or they might like to continue with it. Have a lovely weekend! xx


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