My lovely friend J is a fantastic cook. Sometimes she brings me tupperwares of food on Wednesday nights, when we meet for Japanese class. A few weeks ago, I was excited to receive homemade guacamole, straight from her kitchen!
Having nothing prepared for the next day’s lunch, and waking up too late to run to 7/11, I ended up bringing the guacamole and a bag of tortilla chips to school on Thursday as a last-minute lunch. And this is what happened:
Me @ 12:30: (happily starting to eat lunch at my desk)
Chemistry teacher: (passes by my desk on his way to the photocopier. Stops and stares at the green stuff in my tupperware). After a few more covert, curious glances, he throws caution to the wind and asks me “What’s that?”
Me: “Oh, this is guacamole! It’s made with avocados. Would you like to try some?”
Chemistry teacher: (hesitant but intrigued) “Yes, please.”
So I offer him some tortilla chips and the guacamole, watching as he tried the green stuff cautiously. He seemed mystified by what exactly it was, but he seemed to like it, and he thanked me.
A few minutes later, a JTE also spotted my lunch: “Karen-chan, what’s that?”
Me: “Oh, it’s guacamole. Do you know it? No? It’s a sort of Mexican dip. Here, try some!”
And so began my base school’s discovery of guacamole. No less than 8 teachers taste-tested it (some even asked for seconds!), and then they all gathered around my JTE’s computer and googled “guacamole” in Japanese. After reading the Wikipedia page, they all seemed more confident about what exactly they had eaten.
And they all confessed that now they felt like drinking a beer to go along with my strange lunch.
2 lessons learned: grassroots internationalization can start with guacamole. And Japan knows very little about Mexican food aside from tacos.