Friday, 22 January 2010
The Day of Curry
When I received my schedule for Asahi Kindergarten there was a note on it that Friday January 22, 2010 was the 'day of curry'. Having some idea that curry was involved and having no idea how, one can see how this peaked my interest. I had visions of curry falling from the sky, or small Japanese children having a giant curry food fight or even the whole school dressing up in the horribly racist East Indian garb that seems to symbolize curry in this country.
Although, the day of curry was none of these things it was a lesson in Japanese etiquette. The mothers of Asahi Kindergaten cook a curry lunch for the whole school once and month. At first I was expecting the 'Great Hall' they have on the second floor to be set up like a dinning room and the whole school eating together, this was not the case. All the students ate in their respective classrooms with their teachers. The mothers came out to serve the curry and get this.... They were all wearing white train conductor hats, full body aprons and rubber gloves ... ahh the day of curry.
I ate at a appointed desk with the secretaries, a newly hired teacher and the head teacher. this is where the twilight zone began. The curry was served, no one touched their food, we sat and started at it. In Japan it is the height of rudeness to attack your food; to be polite one must look at it like some sort of anorexic at a greasy spoon. After some time, the head teacher made praying hands and said 'ittadakemas' (the Japanese before eating saying, its not religious more 'thanks for the food') then she ate, and the others, ate so I ate. I have never eaten so slow in my life. Nearly twenty minutes later we were finished eating.
During the meal, they talked in Japanese which was to be expected, I was brought up in conversation, it seemed to be positive so I pretended not to notice. I was asked about Canadian food (like curry is Japanese food) and had a terribly difficult time explaining what Canadian food is considering I did not want to bring up meat because North East Asians think that 'Westerners' eat meat as our staple rather than bread. So I mumbled something about Salmon, Lobster, Wild Rice and Maple Syrup.
After staring at our empty bowls for about five minutes, the head teacher put her hands together again and said the Japanese; 'I am finished eating' saying and I was free to go. Thanking everyone and bowing a lot, I walked out of the kindergarten past the train conductors serving curry and home with a deliciously full stomach. I will participate in 'the day of curry' every month!