“I’m very happy to see you again, Jean-san! But I’m a little bit sad today…” When I found Jean at the room, I greeted him. To my delight, he remembered me. I was in a cooking class of Aichi Summer Seminar, which is called a dream school with more than 1,500 classes held at a private school in Aichi Prefecture every July, and was held at Toho High School and University this year. The reason why it is called a “dream” school is because anyone can teach anything and anyone can take any classes for free there. It began 24 years ago and many people enjoy the dream school every year. I first took part in Aichi Summer Seminar four years ago, when my first experience there began at a Bangladeshi curry class at Doho Gakuen High School. Since then I’ve looked forward to taking the same curry class every summer.
“Why are you feeling sad?” Jean asked me wonderingly. He is an assistant of the curry class. Actually, the Bangladeshi curry class has always no Bangladeshi. Jean is from Seychelles and other staff is all Japanese. Interestingly it’s much rarer to meet a Seychellois than seeing Bangladeshis in Japan. He remembered me because I had taken the class for four years in a row and there is another reason. When I joined the class for the first time four years ago, a very cheerful and funny woman was included in my cooking group. Although it was our first time to meet, we instantly became familiar to each other. Until last year, we had always been in the same group and enjoyed cooking curry together. I had expected to see her this year, too, but she was not there.
“Because that woman is not here today,” I replied to Jean, “You know, that woman…I don’t know her name…just a moment…” I took some photos from my bag and pointed the woman on one of them. “I mean, she…I don’t know her name, though.” Jean was surprised and looked at me, “Aren’t you friends?” “No. I don’t know even her name. We just cooked together in this class every year. I had thought I could see her this year, too…” Jean nodded and said, “Ah…I assumed you two were friends…” I was disappointed not to see the woman, but I enjoyed the class this year, too. I attended this year with three of my friends, and we made a cooking team with a couple.
It was a cooking class, but there was not anything special for us to do except for stir-flying chopped onions until brown. So, we fried the onions in turn. It is a monotonous work, but is very important. You need to fly onions until brown avoid scorching. If you don’t, the curry won’t become so delicious.
Bangladeshi Chicken Curry Recipe
1. Rinse chicken with water, chop two onions, and grind ginger and garlic.
2. Heat oil in a pan, and stir-fly the onions until brown.
3. Add ground ginger and garlic, curry powder, and salt, stirring for 5 minutes.
4. Add chicken and stir for 10 minutes.
When I wasn’t stirring onion, I had nothing to do apart from fanning my friends who were at the stove. Then I found a man who didn’t look Japanese in the class, and asked him, “Are you from Bangladesh?” He replied laughing, “No! I’m from Maldives.” The Bangladeshi curry class had Japanese, a Seychellois, a Maldivian but no Bangladeshi. Interesting! The class was organized by a NPO called Japan Bangladesh Cooperation Society (J.B.C.S), which plays an important role in building hospitals in Bangladesh. In the class, the participants learn not only cooking but also Bangladeshi situation. Although there weren’t any Bangladeshi people in the class, I came to know many things about their country through cooking. The curry was, of course, very delicious!
After the curry class, my friends and I took a pastel drawing class together. It was the first time for all of us to draw pictures with pastels. We enjoyed do the drawing with lots of pastel’s tender colors. Both of drawing pictures and pastel colors seem to have healing power. We were able to relax and had a wonderful time in the comfortable atmosphere. I’m going to take part in the dream school next year, too!