As noted in yesterday’s post, today was my last day in my French class. And the mini-tradition wisely set in place by my French teacher, Nicolas, dictated that I bring some sort of offering of the dietary kind in order to appease the malicious spirits that inhabit the classroom and who will, if they are not stalled too much by full stomachs, follow an immigrant and bring him unhappiness and misfortune.
Or it could have just been the tradition to bring snacks for the other students. I choose to believe the former, but hey, it’s open for debate, you know?
Following the lead of other students, it seemed desirable that I should use the opportunity to share some of my culture. Precedents had notably been set with Turkish Delights having been brought, and my personal favorite, a Thai immigrant (who happens to cook for a living) brought us an entire Thai meal, including enough for both me and the ‘Prof’ to take meals home (most of the other students were way too scared of the food to try it – their loss).
I had a brief moment where I was concerned with whether the snack I brought was considered Halal (Muslim version of Kosher), since a large portion of the class is Muslim. Then I decided I’d just make what I make, and whether they eat it is between them and their god.
So, my requirements had been set before me: Snack – American Culture – Popular – Thai dinner and Turkish Delight the mark to beat. Well, what else was I to do? I had to make Rice Krispie Treats. With the guidance and assistance of my wife (it’s only the second time I’ve ever made them – lay off, huh?), the Rice Krispie Treats were made.
Forged in the fires of Mordor, infused with sunny days, puppy love, and American patriotism – the Rice Krispie Treats were made.
So it came to pass that during the smoke break, I sat in front of a tray of cereal, hacking it apart with a cheap, plastic-handled knife, eager to see how they were received. When the break was over and everybody had reassembled, one thing became immediately clear: Just like Vincent Price, the people here had no idea what these were. Ok, so a class of immigrants isn’t a fair assessment of the “people here”, but hey, Nic’s French, is he not?
They stared in vague apprehension at the tray of bland-looking pale bricks at the head of the room, the looks on their faces reminiscent of a little boy who has just encountered his first reptile: What is that? Is it alive? Poke it and find out! I think I want to try, but I’m scared.
They knew that the idea was that I was to have brought them something good to eat, but they had obvious difficulties rectifying that idea with what I had presented them. Soon Nicolas made ready to try one in the middle of the room, under the watchful eyes of the entire class. Some seemed ready to dive for their cell phones and punch 15 (French 911 for medical emergencies [cops and firefighters are 17 and 18, respectively]). Others jabbered in Arabic – I’m pretty sure they were asking each other who would teach the class after Nico died from eating this thing.
The Rice Krispie treat went down, and obviously Nicolas remained upright. With a smile on his face. So he assured the class not only of their edibility, but their desirability and, like the guy in the long white robe with a tray of kool-aid at that strange religious party I was invited to last summer, began to pass one out to each student.
The consensus was immediate. Deliciousness. Many demands were made as to the ingredients – I told them nonchalantly: marshmallows and cereal. NOT GOOD ENOUGH. So I said, “Melt some butter, melt some marshmallows, pour them on cereal”. NOT GOOD ENOUGH. So I was made to get up in front of the class and put a recipe on the white board. I drew a block of butter and a small slice of it, with a #1 and a large arrow going into a badly sketched but recognizable pot. I drew a marshmallow with a #2 and a similar arrow going into the pot. Then I drew a line from the pot to a drawing of a Rice Krispies box, with the #3. NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Eventually, the whole process had been written on the board:
1. Melt a SMALL amount of butter.
2. Add A LOT of marshmallows to the butter.
3. Stir until melted.
4. Pour on Rice Krispies.
5. Wait 2-3 hours (or put it in the fridge and eat it a half-hour later).
8. Get fat and have to go on a diet.
The incredibly difficult and arduous recipe was scribbled down and otherwise noted by a few in the class, and also by the teacher. And so it was that with a box of cereal and some marshmallows I outdid Turkish Delights and possibly tied with Thai dinner. The teacher assured me that he is going to attempt to make a grand, mutli-colored, layered Rice Krispie Treat, and let me know if he is successful. I will, of course, demand pictures and share it with you (maybe I can have him guest blog… there’s an idea…).
This will definitely stay in my memory as the most successful dissemination of American culture here since my entry into this country. And I can’t help but wonder if the local grocery stores moved just a few more units of marshmallows and Rice Krispies tonight…