Ever wonder what happens to food when it gets sent back to the kitchen at a restaurant? Now sometimes it is warranted – you are paying for a meal to be made the way the menu describes it – but sometimes there’s a person who makes such a big deal about it or gives the server such a hard time, you just have to wonder what (if anything) is going to be added to the dish when it goes back to the kitchen.
My father-in-law was eating out once and ordered red snapper which came to the table not cooked enough for his taste. He had to send it back. His hearing was going, so it always sounded like he was shouting at people, but it’s only to be heard, not out of anger. As the waiter whisked away the snapper, we all saw him drop the snapper on the red carpeted floor, pick it up and walk back into the kitchen. About 2 minutes later a new dish of red snapper was served, steam was coming from it, but you could actually see the red fuzz of the red carpet on the fish!
When you really think about it, how many times have you made mistakes in the kitchen, and wonder if anyone would pick up on it? I have a close friend whose mom was cooking the Thanksgiving dinner with her mother-in-law, and they were enjoying themselves while they were cooking by having a cocktail or two.
That’s ok, but do you know how long it takes to put a Thanksgiving dinner together? Or, how many cocktails it takes to put a Thanksgiving dinner together? Needless to say, they were having more and more fun as they were getting closer to the end of the preparation when the unthinkable happened… the pot with the homemade gravy in it was being carried over to another part of the kitchen when it just “flew” out of the hands of the carrier! All over the floor it went, just crawling like lava down a mountain. They looked at each other in horror, and wondered what the heck they were going to do now — people were starting to sit down at the table! One of them grabbed a fresh dish towel — or maybe it wasn’t fresh, would you tell the truth? She started feverishly sopping up the gravy and squeezing it back into the pan. When her partner in crime saw what was happening, she manned the door (drink in hand) to keep watch. Voila! Within 10 minutes it was like nothing ever happened. Oddly, to the rest of the company at the table, though, the cooks politely passed on the gravy whenever it was offered.
How about having a mishap that you wouldn’t want anyone to catch, but is unfortunately made painfully obvious at the end?
My father-in-law made a mean clam chowder. Everyone wanted Grandpa Joe’s clam chowder. He made this soup at least once every summer. He had this huge chowder pot — big enough that I used to use it to bathe my son when he was 4! Every summer Grandpa would drive up from Florida and stay in his bungalow in Highlands, NJ. Every weekend there was a party. Showers were taken in outside showers down on the beach. People would sling their towels over their shoulders and make their way down to the showers before the night’s festivities would begin. On this particular weekend, Grandpa was busy putting the chowder together for “Irish Night.” At the scheduled time, the pot was brought down to the cabana with the infamous hot, bubbling chowder. People were eating the soup left and right and getting toward the bottom of the pot as the night was winding down. When what should have been the last person to scoop a ladle of the “liquid gold” had a tough time pulling up the ladle (like fishing and having your hook caught on something that doesn’t want to budge), further investigation was needed. Grandpa Joe came right over, put his head into the pot for a closer look and said, “Well I’ll be darned!! So that’s where my towel went!” Obviously, while cooking and waiting to take his shower, that towel slipped inconspicuously into the pot and just laid there in wait to gross someone out.
Sometimes when these things happen, you just have to fess up. For instance, my sister made potato salad for an outside barbeque and left a little of the dressing in the refrigerator to add to the salad when it was to be served. This ensures that the potato salad is creamy and moist. When it was time to serve dinner, she prepped the salad and brought it outside. Since her husband absolutely loves her potato salad, he promptly began to eat it when a disturbing look crossed his face. What’s wrong she asked? He replied that it was the worst potato salad she had ever made and asked her if she was she mad at him or something? She, of course, told him he was nuts (maybe not that nicely) and said she tasted it when she made it and it was fine. After another taste and look of pain from her husband, she tasted it herself and admitted there was an issue, but couldn’t quite put her finger on the problem. She went back into the kitchen, back into the refrigerator and saw the container she had made with the extra dressing on the top shelf — filled right to the top, and right next to the almost empty container she had stored leftover pancake batter from breakfast! Maybe she could have called it potato pancake salad if it tasted better, and patented it? Yuck!
I’ve had some mishaps myself. But not enough time has passed for me to “fess” up since some of my guests may remember the occasion. I’m going to wait a few more years …but if you care to share yours, we’d love to hear about them.