We have a food theme for each night of the week.
We’ve used this approach consistently for our meal planning for years now- having tweaked it once, two years ago. It helps to focus the meal planning without being too rigid. Sundays – a dish with beans, Mondays – soup and so on. Saturday is “around the world” where we explore different cuisines from…around the world! Most notably Saturday dinners have been Japanese (eating rice with chopsticks was a hit) and fondu in the spirit of the Swiss. It is an opportunity to learn about a different culture, food preparation and style. This last Saturday we embraced the Chinese cuisine of dim sum. It will go down as one of the more popular Saturday nights!
Dim Sum, eating small savory and sweet dishes first began as “yum cha” going out to drink tea in China. While tea is still a part of dim sum, the small plates of food have become front and center. The waiters walk around the restaurant pushing carts with little plates of food from which to choose. We don’t have food carts, so we improvised.
Where did the inspiration come from? A book! We have been reading Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin since before the girls were 2 years old! I think the book was out and about last week and it sparked an idea in my aspiring chef, Arlene. She asked if we could make dim sum for our “around the world night” and of course I was intrigued. Mmmmm. Could be delicious and fun!
Friday afternoon we went food shopping and spent time at the library picking out books on Chinese language, celebrations and food traditions. It has been fun to explain that the Chinese language uses characters that stand for things or ideas, while English “characters” or letters, stand for sounds. I love languages! Dim sum and its corresponding characters translates (as far as I’ve learned) “to touch your heart.” We had a fun talk about what that means. Is your heart pointing out the food? Do these h’orderves touch your heart? Hmmmmmm.
A&A helped prepare some of the food, but they preferred making menus and decorations complete with fiery dragons.
On a side note, we went to an exhibit on mythic creatures last week and the girls noticed that the dragon was a popular mythic creature in general–but especially in Asia where they are in fact important to their mythology.
It was wonderful to break away from the monotony of “making dinner.” We had a party and…it was awesome! We took on this great new challenge together- preparing new foods, enjoying these new foods, and even drinking green tea with our dinner! We listened to Chinese folk music and if know the girls, you know that the night wouldn’t be complete without some dancing after dinner.
The menu was demanding (and mostly gluten-free), so there were several moments I had to take a step back and remind myself of the pleasure and toss aside the “weight” of the work. Stephen and I had so much fun cooking together–mistakes and all. The girls were thrilled to set things up and serve us, too– from the red wagon since we don’t have a food cart. Their attention and appreciation to detail and beauty is unbelievable!
Ahhhhhh! We forgot the chopsticks!