Last week I cooked lunch for my office. For 10 people you might think… or even 40? No. I cooked lunch for 140 people.
I should probably begin by telling you about the office tradition. I work for an Architecture company where every week, one of the employees has to cook lunch for the entire office. It’s a tradition that’s been going for more than thirty years. When it started there was less people and it was a bit more manageable. Then the practice grew, and grew, and grew some more. Now there are 140 people to cook for, but the tradition of Thursday lunch has stayed the same.
It’s really interesting to see the different things that people choose to cook. Dishes that are culturally relevant to them, or just comfortable and within their ability. Polish stews, Vietnamese salads, chili con carne. Curries, soups and tortillas have all been tried and tested. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. A lot of people get their wives/husbands/mothers etc. to come help. I cooked alone, though I did have the benefit of my family cheering me on from Sydney and wishing they could come crumb for me.
I had decided with no small amount of apprehension that I would make fried fish and popcorn salad. I’ve been making these dishes with my mum to celebrate the Jewish holidays for twenty odd years. They felt comfortable. Familiar. A bit different to what everyone might be used to. Also, I love looking at people’s faces of incredulity when I combine the words ‘popcorn’ and ‘salad’.
So, I only had to single handed, crumb and fry 140 pieces of fish. I turned it into a game where I went up a level every time I finished a task to keep up the momentum. And while I was frying I slugged down rather a lot of wine. By the end of it all I was decidedly sozzled. I only had two fry pans, and I discovered quite early on (after burning the first few pieces) that they cooked too quickly in the middle of the pan. This explains the odd triangular, three pieces per pan positioning.
Honestly, I felt pretty damn proud of myself when I watched everyone happily gobbling up their fish and salad. Then going back for seconds… and thirds. It went down a treat! It was also a huge relief to enjoy the feeling that I wouldn’t have to do it again. For at least another year or two.
I guess you’re wondering what I did next? The answer, is absolutely nothing.