Mar 6, 2007

Managaha Kitchen

That's me working the corn beef hash.

This year for the first time ever, I signed up for the Managaha Food Committee--essentially the kitchen crew for the weekend.

I like to cook of course, but the thought of feeding dozens of people at a time was daunting. Fortunately I had some seasoned mentors to guide me--Malou Bautista, one of our parents and a veteran member of the cooking squad for the past several years, and Virle Gayatin, our school office manager & accountant who was tackling the food for the second year. Thanks to these two women plus the rest of the food crew, my debut in food services turned out pretty well.

In the weeks and days leading up to Managaha we met and planned menus, shopped for food, and packed up the food and kitchen equipment we would need.

For supper the first night on Thursday and Friday morning breakfast, Malou and I were it. The rest of the culinary team didn't arrive until Friday. But we worked together well.

It felt a little odd, working on the kitchen crew. I felt somewhat distanced from the students and the activities that were going on. We were in our own world much of the time. I worked pretty much all day Friday, as I had responsiblities during all three days, but on Sabbath and Sunday other team members took over and I was able to relax a little bit and get involved in some other aspects of the weekend.

Here's the menu that I planned, purchased, and prepared:

Thursday night:
Subway sandwhiches and a slice of pizza
Peach cobbler for dessert (I made it at school on Thursday and foil wrapped it in individual bowls).

(The brilliance of this was that Malou and I didn't have to do any cooking Thursday night which was nice since we were busy unpacking and setting up camp).

Friday breakfast
Corned beef hash
scrambled eggs
steamed rice
bread with peanut butter and jam
fresh fruit

For Friday lunch we had an international potluck with food provided by our parents, many of whom came out with the younger students to spend the day with us. Despite not having to prepare a full meal I kept busy keeping things organized, doing dishes, and serving food during lunch.

For Friday evening we continued a tradition started several years ago where the students are divided into groups and make their own food, which they then share with everyone. I was in charge of the kitchen--lending out utensils as needed and so on, as well as leading one of the groups with the assistance of Ken Pearson. My group elected to bring the meat to the table. We planned a massive barbecue--which was a big mistake. We encountered all kinds of troubles.

First one of the student's parents accidentally bought a whole case of pork ribs rather than beef ribs. The kids cut up the ribs and marinated them before, after some consultation with the pastor, we decided to send the ribs back to Saipan and donate them to Malou's pork-eating parents. It was the right decision, I think, though when someone said it was a "great opportunity to witness" I wasn't sure what they meant. Sometimes I wonder if we think about what exactly we are "witnessing" to others. Cause it wasn't really clear what message we were sending beyond "We don't eat pork." But I think we need to provide more than that if we're truly going to "witness". The only message people get from "We don't eat pork" is: "They don't eat pork." We can't assume that people just know about the health benefits of avoiding pork, especially when we appear to not be so overly concerned about serving up unhealthy amounts of "clean" sugar and fat. The bottom line is that real push behind the Adventist anti-pork agenda is not really health, otherwise other unhealthy (but "clean") foods would get the same summary dismissal. It's a more vague sense that pork eating is mortal sin, and to be frank that kind of witness isn't quite so compelling or obvious to the rest of the world.

Miss Missy with the offending pork

But I digress. The pork was sent packing for less enlightened souls to consume. We still had the chicken kabobs, a bowl of raw marinated chicken leftover from lunch, fish, (two whole tuna that had to be gutted and cleaned. For me all this raw meat and literal buckets of blood was enough of a witness to me that vegetarianism is the way to go!) Our next trouble was the fire. First we started the fire too early and had to put it out to avoid it burning out before it was time to grill. Then when it was time to grill we couldn't get the fire going again. Finally one of our parents, Bob Bracken came to the rescue and got the fire going.

Bob Bracken fires things up

Only now the fire was too hot and we had to wait for it to cool down so the meat wouldn't burn. Then there was the delicate process of determining when the meat was done.

You know I love nuance and subtlety when it comes to debate and philosophy, but when it comes to cooking, it drives me nuts! I like things that are straightforward, a simple set of directions that if followed, will produce the perfect product every time. All this business of divining when the fire is right and the meat is done is very frustrating to me.

Still in the end, the meat was cooked proprely and the meal was great.

Malou advices the kids on the nuances of when the chicken is done.

Mmmm, mmmm. . dead flesh. My favorite!

The finished product with contributions from all the student groups including our own barbecued chicken at the top of plate adjacent to the corn on the cob.

On Sunday, the plan was to have cereal, fruit, and leftovers so that we wouldn't have to cook and could focus on packing the kitchen up. But Malou really wanted to make some hot dogs--just boil them up real quick--no big deal.
And also maybe just a little bit of french toast. Real quick.
So come Sunday morning and I arrive at the kitchen area and scrambled eggs are cooking, French toast, fried rice, hot dogs, bagels--the works.
Or we could not just have cereal.

But it was a cold and rainy Sunday morning, the hot food tasted delicious, we got the kitchen packed up in plenty iof time, and Malou pretty much saved my butt in the kitchen all weekend, so who was I to complain.
I shrugged my shoulders and tucked into a delicious breakfast.


Mr. Grant said...

food was marvelous. good job

aya said...

hey mr. m i read your entries from your latest wind entry to your real c.t. entry! wow. wow wow wow. you know what? i dont like you. BECAUSE, i miss SAIPAN more than ever. you were just rubbing into my face how awesome the island is! i miss real christian theater, i miss keisha, i miss the beach/managaha, and OHMYGOSH i miss the FOOD. i think Saipan, my love, has the BEST FOOD EVER. bbq, coco, red rice, kelaguen...droool. and the best part? most of it is always FREE to eat at parties, events, just everywhere! i really really miss it. i have to be back. boo.
hehe anyway i hope youre doing fine. im so happy the managaha trip was awesome despite your loss in capture the flag. but i think what matters is that you had fun and you learned valuable lessons!
okay well i dont think comments should be this long. haha. you should email.
alrighty well good luck on everything. enjoy saipan, cuz theres nowhere that can really compare once you've lived there...