Thursday, June 28, 2012

A day of Japanese

I had a most beloved book growing up, Grover and the Everything in the Whole Wide World Museum. I forgot about it for a long time, but remembered it when I saw it again on Sandra Dodd's website about unschooling.

I was reminded of this again today as I washed the last of the many dishes we dirtied while unexpectedly learning about new foods and Japan.

We started this morning by watching the movie Ponyo. There was no agenda, just a family-wide love of Miyazaki and the fact that our turn happened to come up on the waiting list at the library.

In one scene the little boy Sosuke and the little girl Ponyo eat ramen noodles.

Woody was very curious about the waiting-three-minutes, then ta-da! part of ramen, so while out running another errand (getting de-wormer for the poor dog whose preventive medicine we got a couple of months behind on), we stopped by the co-op to get a few packages of noodles. We started talking about Japanese food as we shopped, and Woody remembered the rice balls that he liked so much as a littler boy, but that we hadn't made in a long time. So, we got the ingredients for those, too.

I boiled the water for the noodles and read the instructions out loud, and Woody did the rest.

Then, we made the rice balls together. 

Woody first tried these when our friend, midwife, and whole foods educator Jill came to my middle school class to do a cooking workshop four years ago. I had Woody with me in the class, so he learned alongside the preteens and teens, doing a lot of snacking and sampling as we made rice balls, polenta-pesto lasagna, and kimchee, which he even ate raw and zinging hot!

He loved them as much as he remembered, but Fox! Fox gobbled and gobbled, not put off one bit by the black chewy seaweed skin and overall primordial appearance.

We ate them while watching the Ponyo special features, which were mostly in Japanese with English subtitles, and included a bit about the port city in Japan that inspired the location of the movie.

I liked thinking of today as a surprise stop in the "Everything Else" section of the Everything in the Whole Wide World Museum--a corner about Japan where you can hear the language, sample the food, and see a small piece of the islands. Sandra once described being a homeschooling parent as being a docent in the everything museum, one who's on hand with knowledge of the wheres, whats, hows, whos, and whens (who can also drive, help find matching shoes, and give long, happy hugs). 

Today, I had a good day on the job.