By Sage Burch
“Back in my home country, Christmas is all about 3 Fs; fun, food, and family. Being away from home during Christmas can sometimes feel very isolating and lonely so I thought that it would be a good idea to have folks come together and just have a good time with each other. It really warms my heart to share a holiday moment with everyone and to see that everyone had a great time. Thank you for coming and also sharing with everyone!” —Christian
How to Host a Holiday Feast
Christian and Miya, the Chuyo RAs, started plotting a Christmas potluck earlier last month. But Christian worried his apartment would be too small—it is just a hallway and a small room after all. Miya knew exactly what to do. No apartment, no problem. She visited a few public venues in Matsuyama City to survey the amenities and shared the details with a group chat of attendees. Together, we decided to host the event at the 愛媛県生活文化センター (The Ehime Prefectural Civic and Cultural Center,) a convenient two minute walk from the Kamiichiman Tram stop and a supermarket. Once we made that decision, Miya promptly reserved a room for us. It was more perfect than anyone could have hoped.
A Charming Cooking Room for Sensational Chefs
For just over 5,000 yen, we had access to a cooking room from 1:00 pm to 9:30 pm. There were five cooking stations with three burners and one oven each. Plates, cups, cooking supplies, blenders—you name it, it came with the room.
Attendees Arrive and Promptly Begin Preparations
Apphia wheeled in a giant suitcase, laid it on the ground by one of the five cooking stations, and began unpacking. Christian opened the cupboards and found two giant pots to boil water for pasta and Callaloo. I boiled apple juice and spices for spiced apple cider. The pasta was transferred to aluminum pans, doused with cheese and sauce, and moved to an oven to bake.
Everyone lent a helping hand somewhere. One set of volunteer chefs chopped cabbage and carrots and was replaced with another group who assembled the ingredients into spring rolls.
Oven directions and dials were decoded. The room quickly heated up as ovens and burners turned on.
Filipino and Trinidadian food took the spotlight.
It was a feast for the ages.
“With all the cold weather right before Christmas, as an Australian, it had never felt less like Christmas to me before this wonderful lunch/dinner. It was so nice being around a bunch of lovely people, just chilling, cooking and, of course, eating. It’s definitely the biggest Christmas I’ve ever had, and I think it was a perfect final Christmas in Japan for me.” – Jordan, owner of multiple Santa hats for some reason.
“I had such a great time cooking with everyone! I’ve always wanted to have a huge cooking day with friends. Having it on Christmas Eve made it extra special for me because I usually cook aaaalll day with my mom and it’s what I look forward to most about the holidays. My mom always experiments with new recipes, too. So trying everyone’s food and seeing how much love they put into everything reminded me of that, too! So it was just very homey and an awesome, awesome time! ❤️❤️!” —Gizelle, creator of the Cheesy Shrimp Dip.
“I found the love of my life through the savoring of the creamy shrimp dip.” —Apphia
Gizelle’s Cheesy Shrimp Dip recipe is available here, for anyone who wants to try it themselves!
Cleaning the Cooking Room
It took nearly an hour and a half to put the room back the way we found it. Everyone tucked away leftovers into takeout containers and began washing dishes. Trash bags piled up near the entrance.
I saw Gizelle put one of the Cheesy Shrimp Dip dishes into the sink. I gasped.
“WAIT!” I shouted.
I grabbed the remaining three dishes and scraped them clean—just as I thought, there was still a good bit left stuck to the ceramic. Gizelle gave me a pack of Ritz crackers to take home. I ate this for breakfast the next morning.
When everything was done, we took a group picture.
When we left, we each took a bag of trash with us and then turned off the lights.
Sage Burch is the President of Ehime AJET for the 2022-2023 year. Sage is a fourth year JET in Matsuyama City with a bachelor’s in Global Studies and an interest in creative writing and language learning.