Tuesday, March 23, 2010

As an addendum.....

.....to the last post -

I had attempted to research more about Mister Kitchen......

....but, sadly, most of what I found was in Vietnamese, and my Vietnamese language ability isn't really that sharp this week.

Sooo.....talked to some of the members of an English Language club that my friend runs here in Hai Phong.

  • The story of Mister Kitchen goes back at least a coupla thousand years. The holidays official name is Ông Táo chầu trời...which, taken word by word, means "He apple court sun" "Ông Táo/He Apple" I assume means "Mister Apple." I think the student that said "Mister Kitchen rides a fish to the sky" was referring to THE PLACE where this mysterious "Mister Apple" tends to hang out.....

  • Mister Apple's place is indeed the kitchen. The way I have pieced together the stories that I have been told by several different people is that this kitchen spirit (Mister Apple, I'm presuming), hangs around your kitchen and observes your house. And, on his holiday (which is five days before Tet), he goes and rides a fish (although some sources say that he mounts three fish) to the sky to report on if your family has been naughty or nice during the past year to "The Boss" (I have STILL not had it made clear to me WHO EXACTLY this deity is that Mister Apple reports to). Sound familiar??

  • Mister Apple then spills the beans to "The Boss" and the good households are the ones who will have their kitchen well-stocked all year long, while the bad households are the ones who will get a lump of coal in their kettle!

And that, children, is the story of Mister Apple.......

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Coulda used some apples as prizes........

OK, so I had a class tonight of seventh-graders. After we trudge through what I am told to instruct them in the wild and crazy Government-Approved textbook, I'll usually have some sort of fun competitive game involving the English language......then the top five students OR the students on the winning team (depending on if it's a sort of individual game or a team competition) will get a pack of gum for each winning student (or something like that) and the rest of the kids will usually get some sort of small pieces of candy (or something like that).

Well, today, I bought a roll of about 14 Oreo cookies and three packs of two of WHAT APPEARED TO BE cookie-like biscuits or shortbread or SOMETHING along those lines.

So, I offered the winning team the choice: They can divide the roll of Oreos amongst themselves, or they can take the three packs of cookie/biscuit thingies (two cookie/biscuits per pack) and divide those.

Well, usually, all the kids leave happy, and fun was had after all!

This time, the winning team selected the Oreos and so the non-winning team got the cookie/biscuit thingies.

Class ended.

"Errrmm.....look, Hon - the kids on the non-winning team left their biscuit/cookie thingies behind. Whaaa....?? Why?"

"My Anh yêu ơi......why would you buy those things for children?"

"WHAAAA.....? I thought that kids like biscuits and cookies and such.....??"

"Uhhhh.....yeah, but those things that you bought aren't biscuits and cookies........they are Army food."

[Blank expression on my face accompanied by silence]

"Yes, they are solid biscuits of rice, meat, and vegetables....pushed down into a small form. Army fighters eat this when they take long walks....."

"So waaaai a sec here - you're saying that I bought the kids M.R.E.'s??!!??"

"Hon, I do not understand - what is an MRE? Is it like an enemy?"

"No, Hon....that is a British pop music newspaper.......though I'm sure they'd have appreciated THAT a lot more than these thingies...."

....you'd really hafta see this -

Emmm-Kay....so, it looks like a normal packet of cookie-biscuit thingies.....

But upon further review........

Yeah, I think of all six M.R.E.'s, one girl, out of the Vietnamese custom of politeness, ate 20% of one of the things.......

Pics, pics and more pics.......next post....


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