As some of you may know, in America during November, we celebrate a holiday called “Thanksgiving.” During Thanksgiving family and friends gather together to share a big meal to recognize our good fortune and give thanks for the things we have. Being a passionate cook myself, I absolutely love this holiday because it gives me an excuse to spend two or three days in the kitchen with a very knowledgeable but extremely strict cook, my Mom. I wanted to find a way to share my passion for Thanksgiving cooking with the kids and so I designed a big project that everyone could participate in: a Mountain Class Thanksgiving Lunch, made from scratch.
First, the Mountain Class was separated into three groups, and each was given a traditional Thanksgiving side-dish recipe to learn: mashed potatoes, sweet potato marshmallow pie or stuffing. The groups were then given a shopping list of four ingredients that they would have to buy from the bakery, Kaldi or a local greengrocer (fruit and vegetable shop). The day before our Thanksgiving celebration each group went shopping for their ingredients but there was a catch. The group who could finish shopping in the shortest time would be the winner and therefore the first to fill their plates at the Thanksgiving feast. Teams had to work together to move quickly but safely and ask in English for the ingredients they needed, as well as how much of it they needed. The kids even helped pay the cashiers when we were finished and carried everything themselves! Everyone did an amazing job at staying focused and working together but in the end, it was Team Mashed Potato who proved the quickest of the bunch.
After a good nights rest the Mountain Class returned to CGK the next morning and immediately started cooking their group dishes. Vegetables had to be cleaned, peeled and chopped, bread torn and eggs cracked. Ingredients were boiled, baked, mixed and mashed. Ovens, microwaves and several burners were all hard at work. There was so much going on and so many people working together but to me that is the essence of Thanksgiving! Though everyone was excited to jump in and participate, the kids really showed their maturity by waiting patiently for their turn and following instructions with purpose and care.
Finally, after many hours of hard work, the students put on their handmade Indian and Pilgrim hats and set the tables with some very cool, woven placemats they had worked on with Ms. Mia. The long wait was over and they lined up for a real, home cooked, Thanksgiving feast! Because turkey is somewhat difficult to find in Japan we substituted a few roasted chickens from a local butcher shop and served everything buffet style. It was a huge hit with the kids all of whom came back for second and often third servings of their favorite dishes. After all, nothing tastes better than something you’ve made with your friends!