Sunday, 3 May 2009

Cooking with Sara!

So I've been put in charge of a class with the teachers at my school from 3-4 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are no rules or guidelines on how I am to run the class, or what I should teach, so it's complete freedom. The purpose of the class is to give the teachers an opportunity to talk in English (or just listen) to me.

Mostly the class is attended by women, and I learned that most of them really like to cook, so on Tuesday I decided to teach them cooking terms and recipes in English. I started with the basics: chop, slice, mince, boil, measure, etc. Then I moved on to recipes, choosing french toast, bruschetta, lemon pepper chicken, ratatouille (a big name, but a super easy recipe), and no bake cookies. I also showed them a video of Fried green tomatoes.

I had two intents for this particular class. The first was to show them something I knew they took an interest in, using recipes that I am familiar with. I also told them to bring their own recipes for me if they wanted to. The second was to show them that I am capable of cooking. It was starting to become a daily ritual to ask me what I had to eat for breakfast and dinner outside of school hours, and give me instruction. Even my co teacher Mrs. Shim wanted to help me learn cooking in the days leading to my decision for the class. She would make sure that I knew things like "be careful when tossing pumpkin in flour" then demonstrate the wrong way to do it: shaking an invisible bowl so forcefully that flour would go everywhere.

For Thursday I brought in food to make with them- bruschetta and tuna pasta salad. The bruschetta was easy enough, and I'm pretty sure they will forever remember the word "chop" after watching me chop tomatoes for 10 minutes. I also wore a chef's hat that was given to me in Seoul at orientation during a "Cooking Nanta" performance (think of "Stomp" only in a kitchen with knives and other utensils. Very cool.) when I was pulled up on stage to assist in a dumpling competition.

During the pasta salad I almost lost them. I already had the noodles prepared, a can of tuna, and chopped up/minced onions, peppers, and garlic with them. That was fine, but I think they wanted to have me committed when I made the sauce.

I started with "1/2 cup of mayonnaise, then pour it in"
*sideways glances as it plops into the mixing bowl*
"1/4 cup vinegar, then pour it in"
*a small gasp*
"1/2 cup oil..."
*muttering in Korean and an interruption from Taebun: "no, they say too much oil"*
"Trust me, it will be great!"

After adding some pepper, mustard, salt, thyme, and oregano, I had what looked to be a disgusting mess in this bowl. I showed it around the group, and nobody wanted to lean in too close to it. And then, the magical English word "mix!" and the mess transformed. It became a creamy light yellow sauce with the dominant scent of oregano, and they all passed around the bowl to smell it. After I mixed the final product together, they all very happily ate it and went back for seconds. Yes! Which is good, because I'd never made this before, so I didn't even know if I could trust me with it.

I figured this would have them all convinced that could cook, and finally take away some of their concern over my welfare. That is, until the next morning when the woman who gives me a ride looks over at me very concerned and asks "How often. do you. eat. pasta?"

It's strictly rice and kimchi for me now.



    Sara, you can cook!? I'm so proud of you.

    Perhaps some rice dishes next time, eh?

  2. Sara,
    You like onions! When did this happen?
    The food sounds yummy