By now you may get tired of me posting about Indian food. However, in a continued attempt to keep my 1.2 billion Indian* readers happy, I shall press on.
*As I’ve stated before, I love to look at my stats on WordPress. I’ve reached a lot of people on the Subcontinent. However, I find it funny that I have not received a single view from the People’s Republic of China. Is WordPress banned there? Have I been blacklisted since I mildly mocked Mao Zedong in one of my posts? I would really like to get a single view from the People’s Republic…
In case you are new to the blog, I am a teacher. This year I am teaching World Geography this year to my upper grade students (6-8). We finally reached South Asia a couple of weeks ago, and I made the decision to go on a special field trip with my students. We would all go out for lunch at India Palace by the airport.
Now, this decision was not made lightly. We have had several food days in the past with mixed results. Cheese Day from two years ago was a big hit. Guacamole day this year was super successful. However, my hummus holiday was a flop, and Indian food contains a fair amount of chickpeas, so I was curious if the kiddos would like Indian food.
Second, bringing a group of 12-14 year olds to an Indian restaurant is risky. Generally speaking, this demographic can be prone to rudeness, impatience, and dislike of new things. Also, there is the All You Can Eat factor. Several years ago, we took students to Ponderosa after a field trip. One of my students took the ALL YOU CAN EAT too far. The results of his attempt to join the professional eating circuit were shall we say, disastrous and disgusting. I’m pretty sure I’ll never go to Ponderosa again.
But, even with all those risk factors at play, I took the risk. Why?
BECAUSE THIS GROUP OF STUDENTS ARE AWESOME. They are super polite, open to new things, and are eager to please. Sure, I was a little concerned if they would like the food, but that was mostly because I wanted them to like what I like. I had no concerns about their ability to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner, and represent themselves and their school well.
On Wednesday, we discussed some of the vocabulary they would encounter at an Indian restaurant. They created an Indian food cheat sheet explaining words like basmati, naan, korma, dal, kofta, saag, gulab jamun, and tandoori. We discussed some rules of buffet etiquette, and I reiterated the point that “All You Can Eat” is not a personal challenge.
So, on Thursday, we headed off to the Best Western by the airport, boarded the elevator, and went up to the eleventh floor. The kids were immediately impressed with the restaurant, and we were seated at two tables away from the majority of the restaurant patrons who were there on their lunch break.
The kids tentatively lined up to the buffet, and after checking their cheat sheets, they generally took small samples of several dishes. After they returned to their seats, I watched as they anxiously looked at their meals. One girl said, “I’m a little nervous to try this Indian food.” I responded by saying, “Do you know what they call this food in India? Food.” That brought a couple of laughs and they dug in.
After everyone got their plates, I went through the line and got my plate and returned to see how it was going. I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous as well. I did not want to see two tables full of sad, uncomfortable faces, waiting to leave.
Instead, I returned to see 12 adolescents enjoying a new experience, happily digging in to a new experience. Sure, they all had things they liked, and some they didn’t like, but overall, everyone was enjoying the experience. Chicken curry was a hit, as well as the beef kofta in aromatic sauce. Most kids said the tandoori chicken tasted like, well, chicken. Naan bread was very popular, with one kid wanting to take some home.
Most went back for seconds of the things they liked more.
Interestingly, the kids thought the gulag jamun was too sweet.
My lovely wife met us there for lunch, and she took pictures commemorating my favorite field trip in a long time.
Overall, I left that day with a stomach full of food, and a heart full of pride in my super awesome students who were willing to embrace a new experience.