I wasn’t in the mood for cooking much at home last week, after having spent two evenings baking up Mother’s Day cookies to ship out and then a whole day at the Yonsei International Food Festival (as part of the annual Akaraka School Spirit/Cheer Festival). I signed up for the event thinking I could make something French Canadian, but it turned out that every year, they only represent a handful of countries, so instead I joined the Saudi Arabian team. Our job was to cook and sell a Saudi dish outdoors during the festival, a fairly simple task I thought. But when most of your teammates are Korean guys who’ve never chopped onions or boiled rice, cooking can become quite a disheartening exercise of patience.
Thankfully, after two trial runs of making kabsa, the national rice dish, and a few frustrated barks on my end, I was pretty confident that we would be able to execute the day of. And we did. In fact, I think we had one of the better tables, despite not the teams to serve more popular cuisines (French, Mexican, Japanese, etc…) simple because we were organized and neat. We pre-cut all the essential ingredients, like onions, tomatoes and chicken, the day before and I made sure that the table was always wiped clean. Seems pretty obvious, but somehow it eluded people that having split crepe batter on your table can be a turn off. We also made the effort of contacting the not-so-busy Saudi Arabian embassy in Seoul, who generously lent us with decorations and traditional clothing, and supplied free Korans, and dates for us to give out. They even sent us a Saudi student to come help us out, and had one of the only Saudi restaurants in the city to deliver several servings of real kabsa.
All in all, it was really fun and festive day, and one that taught me a lot of about teamwork. Here are a few pictures of the event!