The Melting Pot rant – fondue sucks.
Last night the big company dinner was held at “The Melting Pot”, which is a fondue restaurant. I guess some people are “fondue people” (Lisa loved it) and some are not. I’m definitely in the latter camp. I really don’t understand the attraction to fondue restaurants…
First of all, diners are subjected to more instructions than people who are going out for their first sky dive. By the time our server finished rattling of the myriad of safety instructions, I was in fear for my life. The list is daunting: which food could be dipped in which sauce before cooking, which bowl you should cook in depending on the batter you used if you want to avoid an explosion, the precise amount of time each bite had to be cooked to avoid food poisoning or overcooking, the proper procedure for taking the cooked food out of the pot and what to do with it before eating it to avoid mouth burns, grease fire warnings, general burn warnings, scalding hot bowl warnings, splashing hot oil warnings, hot utensil warnings… By the time she finished, I was looking around for the triage. I don’t know about most people, but I don’t like to dine in constant terror.
Anyway, that was just the start. Once the “main course” is served (a bunch of raw meat on a platter), then the real fun begins. You fork whatever it is you want to eat, figure out which batter you want to use, figure out which broth or oil you want to cook it in (keeping in mind the explosion and grease fire warnings), you put the meat in the liquid and… check your watch?! Whatever. So I’m trying to keep track of how long my first bite of food has been in the oil (it needs two minutes), but other people are passing their forks down to me because the oil they want to use happens to be in front of me. So I put their forks in the proper oils and broths and check my watch. Just 15 seconds to go! Meanwhile Lisa asks me to put some vegetables in the broth. I start putting the veggies in, but I realize that my bite of chicken is finally done, so I pause to remove the chicken. I put it on my plate to cool, and finish putting the veggies in for Lisa. So now I’m about to dive into my bite of chicken, but wait – the other bites are done, and I have to stop and pass those back around the table to their rightful owners. That taken care of, I dive into my bite of chicken. Um. It was not bad, but now I have to cook another bite. Wait – first Lisa’s veggies need to be removed from the scalding hot liquid! Meanwhile, more forks of food are passed down to me and I’m about to pass out from hunger. I place all the food in the proper broths and check my watch again. About this time one of my co-worker’s little kids grabs a scalding hot fork and begins to scream and cry. Medic! Are we having fun yet?
So, I’m anxiously awaiting my second bite of food when I realize that I dipped it into an inappropriate batter for the broth I selected. Not a dangerous combo – thank goodness – but still a combination our sever warned us to avoid if we liked our food to taste good. She was right, my second bite of food was a culinary failure. 10 minutes into the meal, and eager for my third bite of food, I dutifully picked up my fork and tried to remember all the rules. My eyes began to glaze over as I looked at the sea of unlabeled batters, dipping sauces, broths and oils spread out before me. So, just when I was making good progress on my next dipping sequence selection, more forks are passed down to me. Sigh.
Oh, and forget about trying to have a conversation with anyone – the whole meal was spent timing the food, worrying about getting burned or picking the wrong sauce and passing forks around. Also the server kept coming by to make sure we had plenty of water, Neosporin and bandages. I wanted to scream, “Damn it, could someone please just bring me a ****ing steak – cooked?#@!”
Glad I got that out. Have a great day!