Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for Naan

A few years ago I had the unforgettable experience of living my dream as a schoolteacher.  I had one little combined class of fifth and sixth graders in a small Christian school. 

Every afternoon I  co-taught my favorite subjects: writing, history, geography--and once a week I  got to teach art. (My co-teacher taught the other subjects in the morning.)

        She and I being goofy at the Indian restaurant.

As part of our World Cultures studies, we traveled to India through the stories of Amy Carmichael, Gandhi, and Mother Teresa (whose birthday I share, by the way).  We drew maps and learned all  about Mumbai, Calcutta, and Delhi.   We heard a presentation from one of our pastors and watched a slideshow from his trip.

In just fifteen afternoons, we were scholars on India. Amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it.

I've always been one to teach hands-on, using as many of the senses as possible to engage students. Naturally  they loved when my lessons included food.  One favorite field trip of all time was our visit to a local Indian restaurant.

I had prearranged with the owners to eat their lunch buffet which would allow us to try "a little of everything."  Of course I briefed the youngsters on etiquette and expectations; they would be polite and taste an array of Indian food for the purpose of getting as close to a different culture as we could without an airplane.  (The funny part was hearing one boy tell the others firmly, "Remember not to order cow. It's sacred." And another kid say, "You don't order 'cow' anyway, it's beef.")

Some of the kids with more sophisticated palettes (or at least adventuresome spirits),  sampled an array of curries and meats and rice and yogurt. Others, whose typical dinner consisted of chicken nuggets, pizza, or hot dogs, only scooped up a small bit of what they assumed might taste like spaghetti sauce. 

Regardless, one item on the menu was a big hit for everyone: naan.

Light, warm, airy bread with golden-brown or golden-brown crust. Yum! We ate  the garlic style, the onion style, and the plain. More naan, please.

Every student ate naan as if their grade depended on it.

Lesson learned: When it comes to getting kids to eat Indian food, it's a "naan-issue."  (Sorry. Couldn't help the pun.)

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