I have always found eating a very functional thing, like dressing or washing so I don’t have any feelings about it. Going out to restaurants has never been something that particularly interests me, and neither is cooking. For me eating is no more than refuelling (and something that often slips my mind). I think I have never considered it a particularly good use of time.
Because of this I don’t have many particularly strong memories about meals. There was a Christmas dinner that sticks in my mind because it wasn’t ready until 3pm which I felt at the time (and still feel now) was much too late to have lunch. What we ate or who was there I am not clear about.
However one thing I remember food wise was from the cruise ship days. We had the same menu as the guests which meant the dinners were on rotation, we had the same menu every week for months on end meaning that we always knew exactly what we wanted. The table we always wanted was the circular one in the middle, it was the biggest table and closest to everything on the buffet.
It fell on ‘Island Night’ which was our outdoor deck party night. The band played and we had to dance with the guests from around 8pm till midnight. The thing with parties is that they are only fun if you want to be there. Doing this week in, week out for years, it quickly became one of my least favourite things. To this day the conga brings me out in a cold sweat. In fact, it got to the point I used to ask to be sent to the Alaskan cruises just to avoid doing Island Night.
The chicken kiev though was a high point of the evening. We would gather as a team and everyone ordered the same. Inevitably everything would be delivered separately along with a glass of free wine (once tasted, it became obvious why the wine was free). The cutting of the chicken was as much of a performance as the cutting of a wedding cake. As everything came out of the kitchen one at a time, we went thorough the perrfomance several times a night because as the knife came down because the dinner would explode.
The buttery liquid inside would squirt out at speed often in several directions and we had to be ready to avoid being splattered. We would hold napkins in front of us and hide behind them until the impact had been made emerging to survey the damage. Like a land mine in the form of poultry. Then another kiev would be presented to one of our table mates and the process would be repeated. It was tricky to get the first one as there would be so many interruptions to eating it would be cold before you finished.
I remember asking the chef how it was the velocity was quite so strong, but he didn’t seem to understand what I was on about. Perhaps he didn’t know either, it remains one of life’s great mysteries.