Flying Food

Last week’s post reminded me that I’m no stranger to flying food.  In fact, it may have contributed to my lifelong antipathy toward dressing up and attending formal functions.

First, a bit of background:  I grew up on a farm ‘way out in the sticks.  We dressed up for church, weddings, and funerals, and the rest of the time I ran wild outside.  So dress-up occasions came with considerable tension and discomfort: “Don’t do anything to get your good clothes dirty” meant ignoring my most fundamental personality traits.

When I was a teenager, my cousin’s wedding reception was held in the Fort Garry Hotel, the grandest historic hotel in Winnipeg.  There was a buffet, and I was on my best behaviour in my best dress.  We were working our way through the buffet line and my dad was ahead of me, chatting to whoever was ahead of him.

Remember the restaurant scene in Pretty Woman where the snail shoots off her plate only to be fielded by a deadpan waiter?

Yep, you guessed it.  Not versed in buffet etiquette, I had just taken a piece of pineapple with my fingers.  As I moved the slippery morsel toward my plate, my dad gestured animatedly.  (Apparently it runs in the family.)  His hand smacked mine, and the pineapple sailed across the fancy ballroom to disappear under one of the white-skirted tables.

I envied it at that moment.  I felt like vanishing under one of the tables, too.

Fast-forward to my first year of living in residence at the University of Manitoba.

Thanks to Chris K., a mature student who took this wide-eyed country bumpkin under his (platonic) wing, I finally learned some basic table manners such as holding my fork between my fingers instead of clenched in my fist like a weapon.  My image makeover continued while I observed and copied the fashion choices of my oh-so-sophisticated interior design classmates.

By the time I went on my first date (!) to a fancy restaurant (The Keg – hey, it was a whole lot fancier than anywhere I’d ever been), I was prepared.  I wore fashionable clothes; I knew how to hold my fork; I even successfully identified the bread-and-butter plate.  It was winter, so I was wearing my best (okay, my only) full-length coat.

Dinner went without a hitch and the bill was uneventfully paid.  When we finally rose from the table I turned to leave, swinging my coat dramatically over my shoulders… and it caught a full pitcher of ice water on a nearby ledge.

I didn’t look back to see whether it had landed on the floor or the neighbouring diners.  Head high, I swept out of the restaurant in my dramatic coat, the clattering of ice cubes and cries of dismay fading behind me.

It was a long time before I felt even remotely comfortable in a nice restaurant.  And I’m still VERY careful when donning my outerwear near other diners.

Anybody else have food-flinging tendencies?  (Remember the snail scene from Pretty Woman?  It runs from 1:50 to 2:35 in the video).

24 thoughts on “Flying Food

  1. Two incidents spring to my mind, Diane, though nothing as grand as flinging ice water everywhere (you could have inadvertently invented the ice bucket challenge back then, you know?):
    1) I tried to slice through a pickled onion at somebody’s wedding once (it’s always at weddings, isn’t it?) and the slippery little sucker flung itself over to the furthest corner of the room. I don’t know where it landed, and as there were quite a few folk sitting around nobody would have known it had come from me…
    2) I was at the dog races once (not always at weddings, it seems) with a few work colleagues. I was eating a burger, and my colleague opposite went for the fish. She squoze (spell checker doesn’t like that) a slice of lemon, supposedly over the fish, instead a stream of lemon juice hit me squarely in the eye. I managed to laugh through the pain – and in this instance I knew who the culprit was.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, lemon juice! What is it about citrus that gives it such an attraction to the human eyeball? I have the same problem eating grapefruit – if it’s going to squirt, it’s guaranteed to squirt directly into my eye. Maybe it’s some kind of built-in defense system; a last-ditch attempt to save itself from being eaten. And pickled onions! I’ve chased them around and around my plate with a fork, but they haven’t become airborne… yet. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before it happens, but they’re so tasty I can’t resist!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You had someone to teach you the finer points of manners and etiquette? Being a gorgeous redhead helps sometimes. I just had to bumble through. If any of my dates were impressed it was only with my jungle manners.
    Arm and coat flinging is a no-no but I keep having to relearn it about once a year after hitting someone or breaking something. You are a fast learner.
    With a mouth the size of mine, the amount of food that escapes and falls down my shirt/tie is incomprehensible. Four year old Dasha just cracks up when I put a tea towel on for a bib.
    Silverware baffles me when there is more than the basic three pieces. Thirty years ago I was at a high muckie-muck convention at a 5 star hotel (possibly the Chateau Frontenac). The banquet was $75 in real money. The table seated 8 people and each place setting had more silverware than usually comes in a setting for 6. Across from me was the teenage daughter of the president of a large meat packing firm. We looked at each other, looked at the silverware, tried not to burst out laughing and then copied what other people at the table did. Right or wrong, we had no clue.
    When I am next on the Island, I will take you for coffee. We can both wear raincoats.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! Sounds like a plan!

      I was very lucky to have such good friends in university! It takes a pretty special personality to be able to tactfully tell someone they eat like a savage, and then teach them a better way. But I love your story about the fancy dinner – that’s a fine strategy: If in doubt, copy everybody else. You may not be technically correct, but at least you’ll fit in (tea-towel bib and all)! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This would’ve been in the fourth grade, I think. School cafeteria, lunch in full swing. A guy I knew stood up, screamed, “This food STINKS!”, and launched a sizzling fastball (actually one of those ugly melamine bowls full of really crappy banana pudding at the ancient and ugly fake flower arrangement on the even more ancient and ugly upright piano sitting diagonally in the corner clear across the room from him. This kid had an arm!

    Nailed it, too. Dead in the middle, center of mass. The arrangement hit the wall and fell straight down whereupon an ENORMOUS cloud of dust and cobwebs erupted.

    Followed immediately thereafter by a FLOOD of spiders. The screams were deafening.

    Funniest thing I’ve ever seen.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Omigod I can’t stop laughing at the post and the comments! Thank you, folks!

    I do feel quite strongly that the full pitcher of water you referred to had no business being on that ledge.

    El tea’s story about the pizza reminded me (although it had ALMOST gotten sealed away in the “lost” vault in my mind) that a couple of months ago as I was pulling a pizza out of the oven I apparently had it at a bit too much of an angle, and it slid out of the pan and upside down onto the oven rack. What a good waste of pizza top. As for the bottom, we ate it. We were too hungry not to!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, no! A capsized pizza is a sad, sad thing! And you’re right; that pitcher of water was clearly not my fault. I’ll just keep telling myself that… just like I’ve been doing for that past 30-some years. Maybe someday I’ll believe it… 😉


  5. My tales of trajectory were mostly in relatively private settings- thankfully. I once got a pizza stone and a wooden pizza peel for Christmas, so of course it resulted in a competition for the best dough, sauce and overall pizza. Steve finished his dough first and laid a good base of cornmeal onto the peel before placing the shaped dough and finished putting the sauce and toppings on. I got stuck using a cookie sheet since the peel was in use. His pizza transferred beautifully to the stone with a single flick of the wrist. Mine got stuck. All my wrist flicks were to no avail. I whipped it as you do to distribute a sheet across a bed. It went all over the kitchen. I had tomato sauce on the ceiling and on every other surface in the room. I gathered up what was left of my dough and put it in a pie pan with the leftover sauce and cheese and baked it. It was delicious, but not quite a pizza.

    On another occasion a group of sales clerks and I took our morning break before the store opened in the little cafe on the premises. I had a glass of juice and some toast. I took a big gulp of juice just as a coworker delivered the punchline to her joke. I was caught just before the swallow occurred and the grape juice erupted form my nostrils with adequate force to coat my coworker’s chest with juice. More to laugh about.

    The last event was not food related at all. We went way out of town to a venue that had no liquor license but had a polka band. I was dressed in a 30s style dress and had platform pumps on my feet. If they had open toes and an ankle strap it would have been a bit more 30’s, but I wasn’t savvy about vintage clothing stores yet. So I had on my 80s shoes that were very fashionable then. Polka wasn’t quite retro at the time, so we were being odd to entertain ourselves at a polka dance. I knew none of the dances, but that didn’t seem to matter. Many included instructions in the lyrics. There was one dance in which everyone lined up in a circle and did a step, step, kick move until the direction reversed. On one kick, my shoe took flight and sailed over ther crowd and landed on a table loaded with drinks and bottles. It seemed all in good fun, no one took offense and we had one of the most fun evenings ever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those are all hilarious! I can just see the slo-mo version of the pizza flinging its toppings everywhere! Kudos to you for salvaging it anyway.

      The grape juice? Ouch! That doesn’t sound like a substance that would be kind to one’s sinuses.

      And hey, if you haven’t lost a shoe at a polka dance, you haven’t really lived! I remember the old-time dances we used to attend at the small town near our farm – the men put so much powdered wax on the hardwood dance floor that nobody could keep their footing. There were lots of shoes (and other wardrobe items) flying there, too. (I suspect they did it just so they could peek up the girls’ skirts when they landed on their butts on the dance floor.)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Not food, but fine dining related UFO’s. I was entertaining a client at a fine steak house in Kansas City. We had been seated and began re-arranging our place settings as we fumbled with our oversized menus. My client began unfolding his linin napkin to place it on his lap. He did so with a snap like a locker room towel. It slipped from his hand. Said napkin sailed over our table on a trajectory to impact the diner, whose back was to us at the adjacent table. As the incoming missile approached, the diner leaned forward at precisely the right time to let the airborne napkin land on the back of his chair as neatly aligned as if it had been placed there.

    We finished our meeting before the targeted diner so I have no idea if he thought it strange to have an extra napkin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG, that’s amazing! That’s one of those sequences that you couldn’t duplicate if you tried… and tried… and tried. How lucky that it happened the way it did, or your client would’ve had some ‘splainin’ to do! (Which might have been amusing, but it probably wouldn’t have made for a comfortable lunch.) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve been quite lucky, most food flying incidents happen at home, but one memorable one, and I have to say it wasn’t mine, was in a restaurant in Spain about 3 hrs ago. We were celebrating my dad’s birthday having a lush Chinese buffet, all you can eat, when an uncle picked up the wine bottle by the chill cover, unfortunately it was one that just slipped over the bottle and didn’t go under the base, as he picked it up, those at the table watched in almost comical horror as the bottle slowly slid out of the cover and crashed to the floor. The staff were great they had it mopped up and swept away before myself and the uncles daughter I was chatting with at the buffet returned to the table. They were of course charged for the bottle of wine, and the replacement bottle? I’m not 100% sure he has lived it down yet but I’ve not been out since, and it was the last night of the holiday.

    Liked by 1 person

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