329. Multiplying the Meal

It’s late! It’s late! For a very important date!  With your mouse.  For a big surprise, use it to click HERE.  

There, see?  That didn’t hurt, did it?  It was nice of you to have voted again today AND EVERY DAY TILL AUGUST 11th for my “Grandmother Dearest” essay in the Consumer Cellular contest. 

If you get an email message asking you to confirm your vote, please click it where indicated.  Oh, what a great person you are – I’ve always said that. 

Now, with that out of the way, let’s talk about food.  

The Gospel at Mass yesterday was about the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes.  Mothers of big families really dig that one.  We know all about the stress of stretching the repast when there’s more mandibles present than edibles.

You know the drill.  You were expecting the usual number of heads for lunch, but suddenly their friends have found themselves at the table. Untrained in performing miracles, most of us have to resort to trickery.  Like cutting the sandwiches in fours instead of halves, adding water to the soup, and presenting the entire box of saltine crackers with flair and a jar of peanut butter.  Yum.

It’s all a question of style.

I learned that once years ago.  For many years, my husband Gene taught a class one quarter every year for Washington State University’s program in Hotel and Restaurant Management.  The classes were held on the campus of Seattle University.  It was easily the most popular course on campus and there was always a long waiting list to get enrolled in it.

There were two reasons for this phenomenon: 

1.  Gene was born to teach.  He managed to be entertaining, prepared, succinct, and, having authored several books on the subject, had forgotten more than most of us will ever know on the subject.

2.  The second reason had to do with the subject itself: Beverage Management. Now, ask yourself, how do you teach students of the hospitality field about wines, brews and spirits?  Yup, yup. The only way to learn about them fully is to taste them.  And in Gene’s class, that’s what they did. Over the course of the quarter, 100 different alcoholic beverages were tasted, studied and evaluated in class.

All the other faculty members were envious of  how “happy” Gene’s students were, and how they were always nominating him for “Teacher of the Year”. 

One year, a Chinese student in the class told Gene it was the best class he’d ever attended, and to show his appreciation, he wanted to demonstrate his skills as a chef and prepare an authentic Chinese meal for our family. 

At the time, there were eight of us living at home, but when Gene told him how many we were, the young man didn’t turn a hair.  “No problem”, he said.

When Gene told me what the menu was to be, I may have mentioned it to a few other people – or maybe some of the kids did.  All I know is that when the big day came, the young chef arrived with woks, equipment, and bags of groceries.

And so did a few other guests – somehow, I think we ended up being eighteen in all. Ready for the really big show.

And it was.  We learned a lot by watching the chef wash, chop, slice, sliver, crush, stir-fry, and steam. But all the time, as I watched the tiny amount of food being prepared, I was becoming increasingly uneasy.  How would it be enough to feed all these people? If the young man was worried, though, he didn’t let it show. In fact, he seemed to be downright enjoying cooking his heart out.

Finally, the moment I’d been dreading arrived.  Time to serve the hungry family and guests.  I wanted to help, but the young chef insisted I sit down.  

Then he masterfully presented each course.  He served each diner one small spoonful as he explained the name of the dish, its history, and why it is popular in the Chinese cuisine.  He made it sound so interesting that nobody seemed to notice the teeny amount of food on their plates. 

Nobody went to bed too full that night.  In fact, they may have sneaked out later for burgers.  But every one of us had a truly delightful evening.  We learned a lot, and while we may not have had a bountiful meal, we certainly had a deliciously terrific “tasting”.

That’s entertainment!  Remember that next time you don’t have enough to go around.  Don’t expect Jesus to step in and save the day.  Use a little imagination and showmanship!  Along with the peanut butter.  

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