Friday, February 20, 2009

Soup du jour

I am currently the organizer for our departmental lecture series. This means finding people to fill the slots, organizing their arrival, and then the dinner following the talk. This week was crazy as we actually hosted our regular speaker on Thursday as well as a special visitor on Tuesday. So I have had a couple of really late nights this week.


I usually enjoy the schmoozy dinners after the speakers, not only is the company usually pretty good but I love to eat out: a) the food is usually better b) I don’t actually have to cook it and c) I don’t have to deal with the aftermath. Tuesday night we went to our usual haunt, we hadn’t been for quite awhile. The evening just got off on the wrong foot. We walked in and the young woman waitressing had never heard of our reservation. The usually sparsely populated restaurant was already nearing capacity before we requested a table for eight. She pulled herself together (and some tables) and got us seated. Then another one of our faculty walked in, sat down to say hello and caught our waitress’s eye and said,

“When you get a chance another group is coming in momentarily there will be nine…”

The look on her face was absolutely classic - deer in the headlights. She managed to stammer out,


This is a small place, now full and she was alone and obviously new on the job. I looked up a moment later and saw her frantically calling for reinforcements.


Quite some time later we managed to get our appetizers and as I passed the plates around the table there was a sort of fracas at the other end of the table, of course at the time, no one would actually tell me what was going on. The next day in class as we were settling down, one of my colleagues said,

“So did anyone ever tell what happened at dinner?”


Apparently as my colleague went to pass the next plates around the table he revealed a very large cockroach in the classic dead bug pose one the plate underneath. This of course illicited a collective groan as about everyone around the table had been at dinner (in one of the two groups) and had obliviously eaten with gusto.


I guess I’ve learned to look at things relatively, especially after spending so much time in Kenya. So, I managed to rationalize this pretty quickly.

“My plate was “clean” when I got it. At least it wasn’t in my food…”


You delude yourself however you need to and you can get away with this as long as you don’t think about it too hard. On one of my previous trips to Kenya we were having a “nice” dinner at the Baringo Lodge while we hosted some visitors. Now I don’t know why this was supposed to be “nicer,” I would rather eat our cooks food any day of the week. My friend Boniface and I were at the end of the table and as I went to take a big bite of stew he grabbed my arm to stop me with the spoon halfway to my mouth. As my gaze settled on my spoon, my eyes got as big as saucers. The whole (rather large) soup spoon was taken up by a well marinated cockroach. Now if that had happened a few years ago you would have heard the shriek in Connecticut. As it were I managed to stifle the squawk, don’t as me how. Needless to say neither Boniface nor I were particularly interested in having any more stew. That is one of the few times I actually have left food I my plate in Africa and gladly went to bed hungry. Frankly I was pretty happy last year when the Lodge was closed and I wouldn’t have to risk finding any legs in my food. So now you better understand my ability to compartmentalize, “At least it wasn’t in my food,” on Tuesday night.   I think I’ve found a new restaurant to treat our guests, at least until I forget. 

1 comment:

Sunday's Pearl said...

JMS and I had girl's (and kids) night last night and looked over her wedding album. It was so nice to put a face with the person I hear so much about!