Every year the elementary schools give a performance presentation about the various areas of study. I made an appearance at the Yasuhara Elementary event this year, but thanks to my warm and brisk morning air, I missed most of it. I was able to join the Kaminishi parents and community for the duration of theirs though, for the third time.
I had been teaching my normal set of lessons during the midweek and it was then that the 5th and 6th graders wanted to practice their topic on me. I sat back and listened to their report on Malaysia and Indonesia, and also answered the following quiz questions. One of the questions was about the fried bananas that are popular in that part of the world. My travels could confirm this fact, and that I got my wheels turning.
I thought that it might be fun to recruit Soeng’s help and then surprise them all with some homemade fried bananas. Neither of us had any experience with making them before, but we figured that the challenge and uniqueness of the task would be worthwhile. We would be immortalized to be sure.
After stocking up on bananas, we sliced them lengthwise and dunked them into a cinnamon batter that Soeng had whipped up. Once coated, we then fried them until golden brown. The actual process wasn’t all that difficult and was indeed quite a bit of fun. The unfortunate part about cooking with oil is its tendency to splatter and leave you smelling for the next few days. To address this problem, I was kind enough to bestow some protective garb to Soeng, who was grateful.
Not sure what to make of this train wreck.
The next morning we drove up into the mountains for the event. The first and second graders started tings off with information about their daikon crop. They talked about the seeds, the planting, the process of growth and of course the harvesting. Saki and Ichinyo had all sorts of pictures and diagrams drawn up to provide visual aids. Root vegetables were never intended to hold one’s interest for long, but I did at least learn a fact or two.
These are huge, and make good stomach filler.
The next presentation from the third and fourth graders was about the changing seasons and what in plant and wildlife each brought to the locality. One of the other things that they talked about were the dangers of invasive species, citing raccoons. They also did a demo using plastic cups to show how the pyramid of life topples when the worst animal of all enters the picture, man.
The third and final group were of course the fifth and sixth graders presenting on the Southeast Asian countries. Having already heard this presentation a few days earlier, I stole away with Soeng to put the finishing touches on our fried bananas. Since we had made them the day before, we wanted to warm and crisp the in the oven, and also sprinkle some cinnamon sugar over the lot. The smell that emanated from the oven was heavenly and wafted throughout nearly half the school.
Malaysia and Indonesia stuff
We returned to the gymnasium just in time with the goods. Once they were finished, the guests were encouraged to stroll about, look at the exhibits in depth, and also to enjoy a variety of snacks and refreshments prepared by the students. I was also able peel over and to slip my bananas in the bunch. One thing that did intimidate me bit were the international guests in attendance. Because the students had interviewed two people for their reports on Malaysia and Indonesia, they came with their coworkers from Papua New Guinea and Bangladesh in tow to see the final project. Besides Kaminishi in that being moment extremely international, I now had to contend with people who knew how these bananas should actually taste.
The finished product.
As the crowd of parents and community members walked around, many ate the bananas. We made 60 of them and they were disappearing fast. People were singing praises of their taste and even asked for the recipe. I was shocked, for surely nothing I crafted by my own hand had ever been met with such favorable reviews. By the end every one of them had disappeared, and even the foreign dignitaries had declared them delicious (albeit a bit different).
The video is awful, and the audio isn’t much better. Still, enjoy two songs.
After floating about for a bit, everyone was ushered back to their seats to hear a few songs from the students and also watch a slideshow narrated by the principal. I popped up a few times in pictures from the various events that I have been able to take part in over the lat year.
Once that was all finished, the two of us escaped to get on with the rest of our day. Our presence and contributions were very much appreciated by the students and staff. So even though we had to forfeit an hour or two of sleep, the boost that even just my attendance brings to my rapport and the challenge and triumph over these bananas more than justified it.