Monday, March 13, 2006

When a Lie Beats the Truth

In college I worked for a fancy Boston catering company. One fall Saturday we did a wedding at a Brocton art museum. I was happy to go on a drive out of the city for the afternoon so I could see the leaves change, at least from the highway.

As these things went, it was a fairly high-toned event. More than anything, the bride wanted to demonstrate that she had class. This is almost always a mistake, especially when it's reflected in the menu. As part of the meal, she had chosen a sorbet course as a traditional pallet cleanser in between the appetizer and the entree.

Now even among lace-curtin, banking Irish folks, sorbet is not a regular part of any meal. So as the first servers went out onto the floor with trays of champaign glasses filled with scoops of bitter, citrus ice, you could see the perplexed looks on the faces of all the crag-faced old hibernians in the room. When they tasted it, their confused looks turned to outright scowls. Everyone on staff knew this would happen.

Back in the kitchen, we hustled to get the stuff out so we could finish the dinner. Robbie, the manager, scooped the sorbet from a big pickle bucket furiously. But then a funny thing happened. We ran out. One table of ten remained, and all that was left of the sorbet was a runny soup at the bottom of the pickle bucket.

This is a fairly common occurence in event catering. You run out of a dish, or you forget it at the shop, and then you improvise. In most cases you wind up dashing off to a Cumberland Farms or 7-11 and buying a substitute. In this case, the museum was 5 miles from the nearest store and folks were waiting for their sorbet. So we upended the kitchen. By the grace of God, a museum staffer clearly had a thing for Squeeze Pops. The freezer held a box and a half of the things. So we busted out the box, cut open the plastic envelopes of flavored ice, mashed them up with the remains of the sorbet and scooped the whole mess out into 10 marie antoinette champaign glasses. Garnished with a mint leaf, they looked pretty good.

Then I took the tray on my shoulder and walked out into the room. I smirked the whole time I was serving.

Now here's the funny part. The table that received the Squeeze Pop sorbet was the only table at which everyone finished their sorbet.

1 comment:

Tania Zamorsky said...

You think you guys had it tough?

According to Wikipedia, Nero, the Roman Emperor, invented sorbet during the first century A.D. when he had runners along the Appian way (the A.D. equivalent of college kids working in catering) "pass buckets of snow hand over hand from the mountains to his banquet hall where it was then mixed with honey and wine."

That actually sounds kind of tasty, doesn't it? Substituting shaved ice, of course, for the NYC snow... I'm going to try to make it.

I like your blog. I'm glad you finally "quit [that] shit" and got dangerous. No lie.