Yesterday the first graders had their cooking contest outside in the courtyard of our school. About 280 first grade student (一年生) gathered in small groups around the edge of our school courtyard, which by the way is covered with green artificial turf, the type you'd typically see in a sports stadium.
From 11:00am until well after 3:00pm students, teachers and staff were busy as Japanese June bugs. At first it looked more like an organized bit of chaos, but slowly it precipitated into a rather enjoyable time for all involved.
I had forgotten to tell my wife not to prepare my boxed lunch (お弁当) for that day, so I brought it and had to eat it at lunch. I also got accosted by about 48 groups to sample their cooking. It goes without saying that I was stuffed like a 100 kilogram turkey once it was all said and done. Students cooked up 3 dishes per group which actually meant that I sampled around 164 different dishes. By the time I got halfway around the place I was sick and didn't feel like I could move.
Most students stuck to the usual dishes. There were several different Japanese pizzas (お好み焼き). piles of hamburger steaks (sometimes like a Salsbury steak), (ハンバーグステキ), rolled cabbage, fried potatoes and so on. But there were a few surprises in the sea of sameness. For instance two groups made naan and curry homemade without an oven and cooked on a barbecue grill, which surprised me. Two groups made homemade western-style pizzas, another group made blueberry smoothies and three groups had whipped up some crepes.
Most of the food was quite good but I have to admit there were some stinkers in the lot. One really bad tasting Japanese pizza (お好み焼き) had the consistency of concrete dipped cardboard. In fact it was so hard I had to skip sampling it, much to the disappointment of the group that made it. My teeth are important to me and I just couldn't justify risking a chipped molar for easing that group's disappointment. Another group had somehow gotten charcoal(炭） dust in one of their dishes, so I pointed it out and used that as an excuse to skip the sampling (though I did try their other two dishes that didn't have the dust in it.)
Afterward I wrestled around with a group of 5 little boys who ganged up on me in a WWF sort of way. They attacked from all sides and they zapped the energy completely out of my body. I don't know where these kids get their energy, but I am starting to suspect that they might have some sort of nuclear core that keeps them going longer than an energizer bunny. It was an all around good time, but when I got home in the evening I had to take a one-hour nap before my evening class due to being drained of energy from the day's events.