Bad Meals

September 30th, 2014 § 0 comments

It has been said that the company, conversation, etc. are the important elements of a dinner party. Yes, but in HG’s narrow and obsessed view, food counts. A lot. HG has been fortunate. The food at the great majority of dinner parties HG has attended has been, if not distinguished, at least edible. Some notable exceptions took place when HG/BSK participated in a “gourmet” club in the Colorado mountains. The club members were sweet people but the meals they prepared seemed like absurd parodies of serious cooking. HG recalls a mushily braised rabbit, a shoe leather tough hunk of venison, a “health” salad of bean sprouts, carrots, honey and kale.

In terms of geography, Wyoming gets HG’s vote as capital of bad food. HG/BSK once ventured to the state on a horseback riding trek that took HG/BSK from ranch to ranch. Bunk beds, breakfast and dinner were provided. Memories: Watery coffee, insufferably sweet stale cinnamon buns; gristly, well done steak with canned peas; beef stew topped with congealed grease. HG/BSK ate lunch on the trail: “Luncheon meat” sandwiches and Kool Aid. Dismal. At least the majestic views of the Grand Tetons, the sunrises and sunsets were great – almost made up for the food. Almost.

In terms of bad food, HG mused that sometimes actual hostility was involved. This had to have been the case at a shrimp curry dinner an eccentric woman launched at her Fire Island home. HG is fond of spicy, even very hot food like Indian vindaloos. But, the shrimp at this party were like hot coals, they were mean. HG does not exaggerate. One bite and blisters formed on lips and gums. When the guests protested they were urged by the hostess — with a glint of sadism in her eyes — to gulp yogurt to staunch the flames. It didn’t work.

Sometimes bad meals had a hint of surrealism as in the very strange “white” meal a beautiful blonde, pale woman once prepared for HG/BSK: Vichysoisse. Chicken in a creamy a la king sauce. Mashed potatoes. Creamed puree of cucumbers. White wine. White Bread. Dessert? You guessed it. Vanilla ice cream.

Finally, a dinner party meal that HG/BSK have often recalled was made notable for the absence of food. Throughout the night, there were smells of cooking (HG/BSK may have imagined this). Periodic noisy clatter coming from the kitchen where the nervous hostess continued to dart. But, no food ever appeared. No explanation from the hostess or her playwright husband. Hours went by. Before midnight, famished HG/BSK mumbled farewells and raced to the nearest diner.

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