Cooking class at Mama Chan’sBill's Briefs, Bottom Highlights Thursday, March 5th, 2015
Social Chaos: Bill's Briefs
Reluctantly, I replaced bungee jumping with Mama Chan’s cooking class consisting of two very masculine German women, a snooty French couple, two giggling Korean girls, a wizened Swede of undetermined sex, my partner and me. Once we had arrived at Mama’s house, I upset all with an ill-timed witticism involving the dogs out front on the street and oriental food. Coldly informed they were her dogs, I hastily stammered I hadn’t meant Mama’s darling dogs, just the stew potential of canines in general. The Koreans agreed, but the Swede and French couple went ballistic. Stony silence ensued.
Our plat du jour was Phat Thai a staple dish of noodles mixed with an array of spices, herbs and a choice of meat or tofu. Following Mama’s instructions, we chopped, diced and ground. Her metric measurements confused me, so I threw in what I guessed the others were using and creatively added this and that. Unfortunately, the Swede ate a spoonful of my green peas, for color, and was brought to the very edge of Valhalla as they proved to be serious peppers. So we live and learn. The atmosphere eventually lightened especially with the Germans after my partner in all innocence asked if they were brothers. They found this hysterical and we became buddies.
Finally it was time to taste. We arranged our dishes to show off the color, texture etc. All were quite acceptable and the teacher’s was like a cookbook photo. Mine, however, looked like someone already ate it and it lay “intacta” like a gucky blob befouling a sidewalk. The class ended and we broke up amid curt nods, giggles, bows and a hearty pat on the back. “Hurry back,” was not heard.
Building temple friendships
On a culture tour of an important temple we learned a highly venerated abbot was to conduct a ritual, so we were advised that after a peek in at the proceeding we would leave, of course being quiet and discrete (my middle names).
At the grand hall we peered in a side window and saw a large gathering of monks chanting chants and gonging gongs. I was so intrigued, I stepped up on a railing to see better, grabbing a little lever of some kind to steady myself. Bad move. An alarm began to shriek. I yanked, pushed and twisted, but the lever held firm. Mercy! What a commotion.
Upset about this slight snag in their little ceremony, a horde of saffron robed crazies, abandoning their famed serenity and detachment, appeared screaming and yelling at me to shut the thing off; like I wasn’t trying! The frenzy was increasing when suddenly the crowd quieted and parted like the Red Sea. The abbot, a gaunt lama right out of the classic Lost Horizons (ask a senior), had arrived to find out what the problem was.
Obviously it was me; madly yanking at the stubborn lever. He waved me away then intently focused his eyes on the offending metal until I thought he’d melt it. A moment of meditation preceded a set of incantations of frightening ferocity and volume accompanied by complicated, sacred hand and finger gestures; all culminating in a tremendous shout. His eye shifted to mine and at his nod, my arm instantly shot up and touched the lever which snapped smoothly back in place. Stillness reigned. The abbot turned and made his regal, dignified return to the hall.
Our leader, for some reason, felt it not politic to remain so we quickly filed back onto the bus. Awed, no one spoke; at least not to me.
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