“No! Don’t touch that. No, not that either. No, the glue gun is hot!” A single scream of pain emanated from across the room. I sighed. I plugged in my earphones in a futile attempt to drown out the noise and chaos coming from my best friends, Evan and Keagan, who were over for a sleepover. I had to deal with them for another – I took a quick glance at my watch – 12 hours and 3 minutes.
“Hey guys, look at this!” I shouted, in an attempt to distract them before they broke anything or got hurt. Evan, who by the way was sucking his thumb where he had gotten burnt, and Keagan came speeding towards my computer. They crashed into each other midway and arrived in a tangled pile at my feet. After they had finished untangling themselves, I showed them what I had found.
“A cooking competition?” Evan said, raising one eyebrow quizzically.
“A maximum of three people per adult,” I read at the poster on screen. I turned around and looked at the faces in the room. “That makes three.”
“Admission is free!” Keagan chirped.
“Ingredients provided? One slot left! All in favour of joining?” I asked, spinning around. Their nodding confirmed their interest and after we called our mothers, we signed up for the cooking competition. “21st of November, that’s temporary!” I exclaimed. “It says here you can cook whatever you want!”
“That’s baking! Lasagna it is!” Before long, Evan and Keagan were fighting like cat and dog over what to cook. I sighed and looked for Grandma. She was a famous chef in her time, but now, she only uses the microwave. I saw her lounging on the couch as I entered the living room. Before I even began walking towards her, she spoke.
“What do you need, dearie?” she asked.
“Um, I entered a cooking competition with some friends, and I need a recipe.”
“Mm…. a recipe eh?” I was about to throw this old thing away. It’s yours now.” She handed me a small leather-bound book.
“Thanks Grandma!” I looked up from the book. She was gone.
I burst into my room. “This is our key to success!” I said triumphantly as I held up the leather-bound book. No response. Keagan and Evan were doing something that Iooked like wrestling.
“Guys!” I hollered. They got up, “What were you guys doing ….” I stopped myself from completing my question. Knowing them, it would probably lead to something ridiculous. Evan and Keagan were flipping through the book.
“I can’t read a thing here!” Evan exclaimed, annoyed. I picked up the book, I sneezed as a cloud of dust took flight and flew into my face.
“It’s in Japanese. My grandma is Japanese.” We spent the next couple hours decoding the book. “It’s a cookbook,” I exclaimed.
“This looks good!”
“No, this!” Soon, the twosome were jabbing at everything in the book.
“Stop!” I shouted. “This looks simple enough.” I pointed to a simple looking dish of rice, salmon, cucumber, ikura and shoyu. “All in favour?” They nodded and chirped in unison. “Let’s start preparing now. There’s no time like the present!”
“Go, go, go!” I screamed. It was the day of the competition. We had practised late into the night. We hopped over to the counter to grab the ingredients. Yes, that’s right. Hopped. It was an odd competition, making me wish I had read the instructions properly. It was a three-legged cooking race. We had tied our legs together and were grabbing ingredients off the counter. Evan and Keagan got ingredients while I prepared them. I had never seen them work together like that in a long time.
I had known the twosome for years, but this was the first time we were working so fluidly while the other teams were falling left, right and centre. We worked as one, and if we fell, we picked ourselves up again.
Soon it was time to judge the dishes. There were only four teams left. The fifth team got injured, tripping over each other. Do not ask me what happened. I do not want to know what happened either.
When the judges tasted our dish, they swallowed it and they seemed to stiffen up. They spat out our food whilst foaming at the mouth. “Water!” They screamed. “How many teaspoons of shoyu did you add?”
“Oh no. The recipe calls for five teaspoons, not tablespoons,” we had a laugh watching the judges foam at the mouth and scream for water.
On that day, I understood the meaning of teamwork. It was just like that phrase, “United we stand, divided we fall!” For us, that was literally what happened.
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