Feeding the 400
Posted by Lizz and Pete Maycock at 08:43 on 3rd March 2011
How would you arrange catering for a three day meeting at your church – for between 300 and 400 people? (The exact numbers won’t be known until the first evening meal). I recently saw a great example of how this can be done!
Earlier this week, I went with the Action Team up to the Karen village of Bon Na to visit the Chiang Mai Association’s annual meeting.
On Wednesday morning, I found myself sat at the back of a committee meeting right next to the dining area. As I struggled to follow the flow of the meeting, which was conducted in Karen, I found myself getting more interested in the catering process going on just beside me.
I've often been to large Karen meetings and eaten loads of meals - but I've never actually seen the set-up itself happening. The dining area was on an open piece of land next to the church.
The villagers had built 5 long rows of waist-height bamboo tables especially for this meeting, with some black netting strung above to provide a little shade from the blazing midday sun.
At about 11am, a few young people began to lay out empty bowls down the middle of these tables.
They then laid out packets of rice, folded in banana leaves, along either side of the bowls.
Villagers had prepared these rice packets earlier that morning in their houses, and brought them to the kitchens before the morning worship.
A girl walked down placing a small spoon on top of each packet of rice.
Then, at about 11:30, some more people appeared from the kitchens with huge vats of curry. They proceeded to ladle the two different curries into alternate bowls down each table.
As 12:00 approached, the appointed meal time, everything was ready – over 300 packets of rice had been prepared.
People arrived to eat, and took their places, standing along each side of the tables. Each person opened their banana leaf, and took some curry from the bowls in the centre of the table onto the leaf, using it as a plate.
I realized that not only is this system cheaper and more environmentally friendly that using plates – it also reduces washing up!
Soon some people had finished eating, and they moved away from the tables.
Fresh rice packets appeared, and the bowls of curry were quickly refilled - and more people came to eat in the same place. By the end, over 400 people had eaten.
And the food? Delicious!