‘Chomping’ goes to local market, restaurant

Juniors Martin Ibarra, Duncan Lambert and Elliot Ly enjoy a hefty meal of Chinese cuisine with classmates during their field trip with the "Chomping Down in Chinatown" class.

Sarah Xu

Gathered in the back of a bus, 10 boys and two girls chatted while droplets of rain dripped down the side of the foggy windows. 

The class was on the way to explore an area in one of the most diverse cities in the U.S. They were on their way to Houston’s Chinatown.

This was the first year “Chomping Down in Chinatown” was offered in Interim Term. The class took students on an exploration of Asian cultures. 

Each week had a different cultural focus. The first week was Korea, the second was Japan, and the third was China, said Ms. Paula Lin, Upper School Mandarin teacher.

“We want to expose them to the city and help the students learn more about the diversity of Houston,” said Mrs. Kate Lambert, English chair and teacher in the Upper School.

After a bumpy ride, the boys and girls stepped off the bus and ran toward the shelter of the Great Wall Supermarket on Bellaire Boulevard to avoid the cold rain.

In teams of four, they dispersed to begin a goose chase. A goose chase is a scavenger hunt where the teams look for items on their list. The class played the game at every supermarket they visited. 

“The goose chases get really intense,” said junior Devyn Finkelstein.

The teams ran around the store looking for something gold, something they wanted to try, something relating to Chinese New Year, and many other items. 

“Do you know where the frogs are?” Finkelstein asked.

The teams maneuvered around rows of food, snacks, vegetables and meats and tried their best to dodge other customers.

Red lanterns hung high from the supermarket’s bright ceiling in celebration of the upcoming Chinese New Year. Shoppers were preparing for the big holiday, which is on Saturday, Jan. 25 this year. Chinese New Year is a celebration where people spend time with their friends and family, clean their house for a fresh start, and have a big feast. The holiday falls on the first new moon of the year. 

After the goose chase ended, the students had the opportunity to buy and try anything they wanted from the supermarket. 

Afterward, everyone gathered outside the store and waited for a head count. Then the class was off to Jade Garden, a restaurant that serves authentic Chinese food. It was only a few steps away.

The students sat behind two tables and tried following as many Chinese traditions as possible. The youngest at each table had the job of pouring the hot tea and serving the steaming rice. The person with the most seniority had the honor of serving him or herself first. 

One by one the dishes the students ordered came from the kitchen: beef, green beans, shrimp, tofu, pork, eggplant, duck, and more.

At the end of the meal, everyone was stuffed. All the dishes were wiped clean. Some were so good that students had to order two servings.

Next on the agenda was boba, a Taiwanese tea-based drink. The students went out scavenging for the best boba shop around and returned to the bus with a cup of cold boba in their hands.

It was time to ride back to school.