What Don’t Blazing Saddles and Low Library at Columbia University Have in Common?
OK, there’s a pretty long list, but food is at the center of the question.
A reception, including food, preceded a recent screening of Blazing Saddles at Stamford, Connecticut’s wonderful Avon Theater (www.avontheater.org), complete with commentary from local denizen Gene Wilder. Red flags went up for MyMEGusta, as she has had reception food there before and it was impossible to get to and/or eat standing up. But, they cracked the code, with multiple stations (easy to get to) and the perfect little dishes to complement the film: Baked Beans (if you don’t get the joke, Google it…) and Braised Short Ribs, served off the bone, from Bar Rosso (www.barrossoct.com) . Delicious and perfect.
You would think that the sophisticated caterers who service functions Columbia University’s Low Library would have also done a great job on “standing” food, right? Wrong. We hope it was a one-time occurrence, but at an alumni event a couple of years ago, they served salmon skewers. They were tasty, but taking one bite caused the whole thing to fall apart, and the floor was littered with pink bits of teriyaki flecked fish.
It’s a delicate balance, literally and figuratively, when food appears where it would not normally occur.
Take airplanes. It is just not natural for a shrimp to be catapulted in an aluminum tube at 35,000 feet, and myMEGusta has never (repeat, never) had a decent one on a flight.
Better are slow cooked, easily reheated items, but soup is usually not a brilliant solution either, unless there’s pretty good certainty that there won’t be turbulence. PS A lot of napkins got used on that flight.
We all have memories of particularly bad airborne experiences, like a particularly outstanding, and not in a good way, Thai curry (bland and cloyingly sweet at the same time) sauce on cardboard mystery fish courtesy of KLM. And the chemical tasting ersatz chocolate mousse that Air France foists upon Les Miserables in Le Coach is always Une Horreur.
Happier memories include an amazing pumpkin seed mole sauce on perfectly braised chicken in First Class on a plane from Mexico City to Chicago, and I still wonder if someone’s Abuelita (Grandma) was hidden in the galley. Coach food can be excellent, too; there was a very capable shepherd’s pie on a recent Transatlantic flight.
Common elements? Dishes that accommodate being reheated, and attention to seasoning/flavors.
It ain’t rocket science, folks. Make a comment to share some of your triumphs and tragedies with standing/flying food!