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Old 01-14-2005, 08:44 PM   #11
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Nothing really bad - a year or so ago we decided to hold a fancy dinner party (luckily for very good friends), in the english style - complete with my husband serving 'silver service', rather than having guests serve themselves from the bowls of side dishes. It was supposed to be a fun occasion, but I don't think our guests expected it to be quite so 'formal' in presentation etc., and seemed a little uptight during the first courses, then it was time for my husband to do his silver service with the main course - only he had never done this before and completely lost control of the roast potatoes, depositing more of them over the guests and floor than on the plates! Luckily, this broke the ice and things were a lot more relaxed after that! 6 courses and a lot of wine later and our guests said that it was the best dinner party they'd ever been too - so it had a happy ending!

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Old 01-14-2005, 11:23 PM   #12
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Jer and I were seriously into making pizza from scratch. One time we had a party, and the dough wouldn't rise, but what the heck, you can make a very thin pizza. But then when he was trying to scoop it (I can't think ofa better word) from the peel to the stone, that went wrong andit landed at the back of the oven in a heap. We're nothing if not flexible, and immediately ordered pizza to be delivered. BUT ... I must say, when I was getting ready to just think about putting some dishes into soapy water, I found my guest reaching into the back ofthe oven for that sorry piece of pizza, and told me it was ten times better than the delivery we'd ordered.
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Old 01-14-2005, 11:24 PM   #13
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Jer and I were seriously into making pizza from scratch. One time we had a party, and the dough wouldn't rise, but what the heck, you can make a very thin pizza. But then when he was trying to scoop it (I can't think ofa better word) from the peel to the stone, that went wrong andit landed at the back of the oven in a heap. We're nothing if not flexible, and immediately ordered pizza to be delivered. BUT ... I must say, when I was getting ready to just think about putting some dishes into soapy water, I found my guest reaching into the back ofthe oven for that sorry piece of pizza, and told me it was ten times better than the delivery we'd ordered.
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Old 01-15-2005, 12:20 AM   #14
 
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Possibly the time I took a young lady to a "Lady's Dining In Night" at the Sgts Mess, for the full formal dinner and dance...if you are "junior" you are typically caused to arrive early and leave only after all your "seniors" have departed...and it opens with (in those bygone days) with sherry, served with cheese and crackers, for about an hour...(or a gin based "punch" if you are sorta "dumb")...

Regrettably, I was unaware that said lady had never been to one of these, and had given only the most "cursory" of briefings on how the evening progressed (aside from the obviously vital advice, the "dinner" would last about 2.5-3 hours, and once seated, you stayed until the head table had left, so for God's sake, arrive "empty" and use the facilities before dinner at the Piper's "quarter call", 15 minutes before we're piped in)...

Anyways, you get piped in, sit, are served white wine with a salad, more of same with the fish, shifting to red with the entree, then over to Port with the dessert, the fruit slices, the cheese trays, and, of course it gets controllably "ribald" as the meal progresses, with the Toast to the Queen, Toast to the Regiment (to be drained in one "go"), Toast to the Ladies, some of which may be offered in things like Brandy, Drambuie, Scotch or (for Ladies) Creme de menthe...

The Port is offered first to the PMC (President of the Mess Committee) and thumped down on the tables by the stewards in decanters (a note here, the Navy serves it in decanters with "rounded bottoms" so you have to grab them before they fall over, and "pass" the Port to the next diner, always in the same direction; the decanter is removed and recharged immediately it is emptied, and "returned, refilled" to service)...(and never "across" the table BTW!)(Social "disgrace" follows!)...

Anyways, my "date" was "unfamiliar" with the "custom", and was sort of dreamily in a gin/white/red wine "glaze" when confronted with the passed decanter of Port...(my attention was elsewhre at the critical second) and, wondered aloud if she was to "drink from the decanter, or what"...in a voice that, unfortunately carried....

Suffice it to say the relationship did not go much further....

When I met Margaret and invited her to such social soirees, I was "fulsome" in advising what to expect, but she had her sister in the Mess, and I was senior enough to manipulate the seating cards by then...

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Old 01-15-2005, 12:46 AM   #15
 
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My first "Mess Dinner" as a brand new Sgt was almost as bad...but of course focussed on my own errors...

The "normally wary" Sgt Majors and Officers of the Regiment were "head hunting" for Sgt candidates, as the Sr NCO Corps diminished with WWII and Korean retirees, and to cut this short, dispatched a bunch of well regarded Corporals off an a two month Leader Qualification Course to become Sgts...those of us that made it through got promoted.

Regrettably, the course had not classes or edification on the social side of the Army, rather a 6x12 physical jerks, "learning how to teach/train, and constant "every phase of battle" tactical crap, along with countless hours of drill with spit and polish...

So we got back, were duly promoted, and the entire Battalion herded aboard buses to the retirement parade of a senior officer...the "troops" were then sent home, we were charged about 2 days pay before taxes (that we could ill afford!) for the subsequent Officers and Sr NCO's Mess Dinner...

The "troops were sent home" about 1500 hrs...and we were sent to the "mess" to imbibe...fools we were, we chose "beer", prior to a dinner commencing at 1700...and lasting until about 2130...

The retiring "senior officer" named every body in the room, in his "speech" with an amusing anecdote about service with that individual...note there are a LOT of NCO's and Officers in a Battalion!...most of whom DESPERATELY needed to pee!

An "NO"! It is untrue that empty wine bottles are available, I'm here to tell you that this did NOT happen 30-odd years ago...you set your jaw and "clenched"...and waited...

(Note that its apparent in "today's Army" there is a "half time whistle" and dinner is briefly adjourned for a pee break and in some cases a quick smoke!) (Toasting the Queen no longer allowing a cigar to be lit!)...(from my last such "dinner", where my best friend outside of my wife!- ascended to his Colonelcy)

Anyways I managed not to "totally disgrace myself", but 30 seconds after the last Head Table Guest was haring down the hall to the washrooms, there must have been 30 of us crowded into the nearest "john", I can recall being one of about 5 crowded around the sink....

Beer rapidly fell away in popularity after that, and you understood that "sherry" does not "rush through you" quite so quickly...

Anyways, that was my "newbie" experience of "Formal Dining"...once through the "Green Machine" stuff, its incredibly relaxed and easy....

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Old 01-15-2005, 08:43 AM   #16
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Lifter, you bring back such memories! One time I was dating a young lieutenant when I lived in DC. He had just graduated from West Point, youngest in his class. He invited me to the annual alumni ball. I begged and borrowed to get a silk blouse and velvet floor length skirt to club together a formal. I got there to the realization that ..... I was to sit at the head table, since my boyfriend was the youngest alumnus. Eldest, youngest, and ranking were seated at the head table, so I was sitting there with 4-star generals. I'm a former sergeant and the daughter of a retired sergeant, so this was a little strange for me. My mom raised me with manners and there's something to be said for etiquette, it sort of takes over .... good training always does. But the epitome of the evening came when dinner was over (I sighed a huge sigh of relief, trust me. Yes, it was much like a dining in/dining out, only I was on a raised table in front of a few hundred of the Army's finest). I was standing there, chatting with a general, a glass of white wine in my hand (I only drank white in those days for this very reason), the general a glass of red. I took a step backwards for whatever reason, forgetting that the raised dais was right behind my legs, and windmilled to keep from falling on my butt. Unfortunately the general leaped forward to 'help' me, and in the process threw his glass of red wine on all my borrowed finery! He was so embarassed! I brushed the incident off, bought the blouse from one friend, and dry-cleaning did take care of the velvet skirt (thank heaven it was claret colored to begin with!). The entire experience gave me a new appreciation and viewpoint for the officers' wives we so denigrated in my younger days -- living in a fishbowl like that, someone watching your every move.
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Old 01-15-2005, 08:45 PM   #17
 
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Thanks for that post, Claire! I have the feeling that you and "Jer" and me and Margaret, could really enjoy a "dinner" together, and some recounting of "shared experiences"!

I've never been to a US Army dinner, but from my readings, you are extraordinarily accurate in your report! Us Canucks seem to have followed the British standard "Mess Dinners", which were a fair deal more "formal", I suspect, in that the "junior" was seated the furthest from the Head Table, and was caused to propose the "Loyal Toast" to the Crown, and to "pass the Port"...nor did we "allow" one to carry on with white wine, you got the full "rainbow", and your option was merely water...

Should one have to "withdraw", even momentarily, without the permission of the PMC, one could look at one's chair "disappearing" on return, and, (sigh!) probably about 30 days "extra duties", notably including the "Regimental Birthday", "Minden Day", "17 March", New Years Day, 11 November, etc, where this was a more "challenging task" than it ordinarily was...

I found where the Sgts were invited into "dining" with the Officers, that we NCO's were ever so much more a stodgy bunch for "form" (also for decent food, good wine or top end liquor!) whereas the subalterns amongst the officers were fairly socially restrained, and the majors and "up" were really "whacked" at such events...

Have you ever read "The General Danced at Dawn" by George MacDonald Fraser? If so, you get the idea!

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Old 01-15-2005, 10:52 PM   #18
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I have good luck cooking but my most recent one is this:

I often make trips to chinatown so I can get the more authentic chinese, hindi, thai and korean sauces. Im very big on asian cooking, especially real chinese. Any way's I picked up a thai "soup base" and it almost killed me!

I had seared and then boiled chunks of pork. After slicing them I prepared them in this soup base and when I finally tried it well.. it made my mouth go numb from being so overpowering.

It had chunks of something similar to dried lime peels and something like super concentrated dried ginger shavings. Whenever I accidentally bit into one of these badboys I had to wash my mouth out with warm water (I've told you guy's my taste is too sensitive for some dishes). In the end I ended up washing the sauce off the pork, throwing out the rice that was drenched in it and improvising some sweet and sour to go with the slices. I hate wasting food but that stuff was... dude... no.
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