Yesterday was an exhausting day – my wife commissioned me to cook various international foods for her class of 20-some-odd 1st graders. She is finishing up her practicum teaching at this school and the children have been learning geography and multiculturalism, so it seemed like a good finale to the whole deal.
It went great, by the way – didn’t want to make it seem like a story of Griswald-eque misadventures where you might expect me to lay out a series of ever-increasing disastrous events.
On the contrary, everything went smoother than you might expect from such an event.
The menu was:
- Chicha Morada – a sweet drink from Peru that involves boiling blue corn, Cinnamon, and cloves for an hour or so and adding sugar and fruits to the mix. This is one where the smell is so off-putting, especially during cooking, that I didn’t think it could possibly be good. Turned out, the taste wasn’t all that bad. The kids seemed to like it well enough and many even asked for seconds.
- Chapati – an Indian flat-bread. It’s about as simple as food gets: whole wheat flour, salt, and water, make into small balls, roll them out and toss in a rocket-hot pan. Despite the simplicity, it turned out surprisingly delicious – a basic neutral bread taste, but could very easily accompany a good number of dishes and sauces. We served them with Lingonberry Jam, but I want to make this again later and serve it with curry or hummus.
- Bibimbap – a mix-pot of various ingredients, native to countries all around southeast Asia. Traditionally, this is barbecued steak (sliced thin), rice, vegetables, a dollop of chili paste, and fried egg or sliced soft-boiled egg. The presentation is fairly important, laying out the colors to maximum effect, but is ultimately all stirred together before eating. This is one that I had to hold myself back a bit and make it more accessible to little kids’ palettes. Instead of steak, I used hamburger with the appropriate sauce. The vegetables we kept relatively simple with broccoli and baby corn. The chili paste was removed entirely, and I used scrambled egg instead of soft-boiled. We then laid it out in separate dishes and let the kids decide which components they wanted in their bowls. On the whole, it was a hit.
I don’t often get to cook for people outside of my family and it was a delight. On the other hand, I hate cooking in a kitchen other than my own. I only had the stuff I could bring with me and as long as I live, I will never care much for electric stoves.
What made the whole thing even more fun was the fact that, in an effort to ham it up and put on a real “display”, I bought a chef’s outfit from Amazon and wore that in. It was surprisingly comfortable and functional and we all had a lot of fun. Now, the next day, my feet are still hurting pretty good, but I’m still glad I did it.