The Husband and I went on a school trip last Friday. We were told that one of the activities would be a cooking contest at a “green ecological garden,” and I went along envisioning a peaceful hippie-style organic farm where we would pick berries and feed bunnies while chopping carrots.
Oh boy, was I wrong. There was nothing peaceful about this place. There were also no bunnies and no picking of any vegetables or fruit. What we did have was… oh, how do I put this delicately… KILLING CHICKENS. Yes, we had to go grab a LIVE chicken, and KILL, PLUCK, COOK it. That was our cooking challenge. We also had to kill our own live fish and de-scale it, start our own fire with firewood we find in the woods, and do everything with just a couple of rusty, blunt knives and axes. Oh, sweet baby Jesus. It was like I was a contestant on “Survivor.”
If this really had been a reality show, I would have been the first to be kicked off, because I was a hot mess. I was running around in circles shrieking things, like, “No! No! Don’t make the chicken suffer!” I saw terror everywhere: chickens being bled to death; fish being thrown against the wall; axes being slammed into piles of old bamboo, and grease fires in every wok. I was worried about the chickens, the students, and the fact that there didn’t seem to be a single first aid kit, fire extinguisher, or soap anywhere within 5 km radius of this place. Looking back, I think it’s a small miracle that no one lost a limb or set themselves on fire or caught bird flu.
Anyway, I learned a few things about China during this trip:
- Although most students had never killed a chicken themselves before, they seem to know more about the process than a typical American would, because many had seen their parents do it. They knew how to kill the chicken and how to make it easier to pluck, etc., which are experiences that most young Americans like us had been sheltered from all our lives.
- Trips to “Survivor”-like retreats like these are not uncommon in China, one student told us. This farm charges a flat fee per participant: at 100 yuan (~$16 USD) per person, we got the bus ride, lunch (cooking and chicken+fish killing experience), and bicycling along the beach later in the afternoon.
- With our chicken, we made this dish called Cola Chicken, which is apparently a very popular Chinese dish that I’d never had before. It’s so simple, super delicious, and all the kids knew about it. I searched on-line if Coca-Cola and Pepsi could be used for other dishes and found a entire Coca-Cola cookbook. Cola! So versatile!
I also learned something about myself, which is that I don’t think I want to go on another school field trip here — at least, not when it involves a cooking contest. I mean, I had fun, sort of, and it was certainly an interesting learning experience, but not again. Thanks but no thanks.