Written by Barkha
The first week of the summer camp was themed around food. The week featured Goa, Maharashtra, Mexico, and West Bengal and finally ended with a restaurant set up by the children for their families.
For the first day, the absolutely exciting part was when the children did some berry hunting and each one found their bag of Goan berries. Sujata shared with the children the freshly breads from Goa. All the children witnessed and tasted the vast array of breads made in Goa. There was so much joy watching the children experience the flavours of the breads.
For Maharashtra, Deepali and the children made the Maharashtrian Bhel with puffed rice along with all the subtle flavours that make up the snack. The children chose their bits to personal the bhel. Many recognized the bhel from having eaten it by the beachside. They also made beautiful rangoli out in the backyard with coloured powder. Many of them had never made a rangoli before and were absolutely thrilled.
For Mexico, we had Karla who shared with the children the culinary treats from her hometown. She showed the children foods from the Mexican kitchen; gave them Mexican names along with a moustache and cooked a storm with the children. They made their own salsa, mollete and mazapan. She even played a Mexican game called ‘Loteria’ with the children.
As we were making salsa the chopped tomato reminded everyone of Pizza so I asked them where Pizza came from. One of the children said-Dominos! I thought that was a really cute one!
For West Bengal, I showed the children the initial letter of their name as written in Bengali and a Bengali alphabet book which the children quite liked. We made an adapted version of ‘sweet curd’ or ‘mishti doi’ wherein we mixed four types of dry fruits, honey and cardamom. The children quite liked the curd because it was both chilled and sweet. We also made phuchka or pani puri and the water. The children peeled their own potatoes, mashed them, mixed them with all the masala and customized the eating with water/without water etc.
One of the children said his mama absolutely loves them and so he must learn to make them for her at home!
The restaurant day was the best day for all of us! Everyone decorated the assigned space with streamers, and coloured paper, layed out tables and chairs for guests and cutleries were placed outside. The children made pizza (right from the very base), aloo tikki, fruit salad with ice cream, cookies and nimbu pani. The children even designed a menu and served as guests walked in.
A parent told us she thought we were creating a make-believe restaurant with make-believe food! She was surprised at the ‘real’ and exhaustive spread prepared by the children.
The week changed my perception of cooking completely. I had not only been afraid of teaching others to make a dish, I never before trusted my own cooking. I realized cooking can be both easy and fun!