This summer, for the second time in my teaching career in Hong Kong, I encountered what I referred to as a ‘devil child’. And for the second time, said hellion quickly turned into one of my firm favourites (not that teachers really believe any children are demons, nor have favourites, naturally). In the first instance, back when I was a newcomer in HK, there were months of minor battles – “Sit in your chair!”, “Your dad’s going to be cross when I tell him you didn’t do any work”, “We do not throw books” – and then one day I realised I hadn’t shouted at him for weeks and, gasp, I rather liked him. This summer the whole thing happened in a much shorter time frame: two weeks of intense “We don’t run in the library/touch the teacher’s things/make the teacher’s clothes dirty/mess up the teacher’s hair,” followed by two weeks of sort of making each other laugh but eyeing each other warily, and finally three weeks where she was the highlight of the day. She gave me stickers; I let her sit in the teacher’s chair. I will be sad to say goodbye to her today at our last class of the summer. I don’t know why these initially troublesome children go on to be so beloved – perhaps it’s because the victory feels so hard won, perhaps because I have lower expectations, perhaps they have a bit of spark that I can’t help but like.
So while the summer has been long and stressful, I’m a little sad to bid it adieu. Here’s a summer salad to say farewell. Bring on the calm of autumn!
Deli Pasta Salad
Serves 4, slightly adapted from BBC GoodFood
200g frozen peas
1 large tomato, roughly chopped
10 sundried tomatoes in oil
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove
handful basil leaves, shredded
1/2 ball mozzarella, torn
1. Cook the pasta per pack instructions.
2. Add the frozen peas for the last two minutes.
3. Drain, run under cold water until cooled down, then leave to drain again.
4. Make the dressing: put the chopped tomato in a food processor with half of the sun-dried tomatoes, the oil, vinegar, garlic and 8 basil leaves. Season and blend.
5. Pour the dressing into a large salad bowl.
6. Tip the pasta and peas into the bowl, add the remaining basil leaves and sun-dried tomatoes along with the mozzarella. Toss well to combine everything. Serve in the sunshine (in a perfect world!).