Some weeks ago I was testing boats in Merry Ol’ England, where the weather was wintry, at least by comparison with the steaminess of the Florida home from which I’d just departed. Cold weather is, of course, a perfect complement to hearty fare. So it wasn’t surprising that late one grizzly, gray, and especially bitter afternoon with rain slanting, seas breaking, and halyards rattling all over our marina, I fell to anticipating what the manufacturer of my test boat du jour had in mind for the evening: a big dealer-meeting dinner at a fine local restaurant complete with beef filets and oodles of mashed potatoes and spinach.
British food’s got a deplorable reputation that unfortunately is often deserved. Indeed, during the previous days, I’d breakfasted on tinned tomato, luke-warm beans, and eggs fried to the consistency of surgical latex. I’d lunched on plates of fish and chips that tasted like they’d been cooked in Texaco SAE 40HD motor oil. And I’d spent one entire afternoon bobbing around the English Channel, wondering whether the fishiest-tasting tuna sandwich I’d ever eaten in my life was going to stay down or vigorously hop back into its natural element.
But hey, I’m an upbeat, hopeful sorta guy. So the anticipation I’d cranked up at the marina hung in there, virtually unscathed, as I was deposited in front of the restaurant. And what a promising shindig was underway inside! I feasted my eyes upon packs of waiters scurrying about, sparkling silver, linen napkins, and a seemingly mile-long rectangular table with forty or more guests. Then I took a seat with an American dealer friend I’ll call Tom to the right, another dealer friend I’ll call Gordon to the left, and a regal young lady from Caracas across the table.
The entre arrived.
“What is this green?” the lady challenged, curling her lip, her fork poised over a glaucous layer atop her filet that glimmered in the gloom. Having earlier taken this layer for a mlange of viridescent veggies based on a cursory examination, I now studied my plate more carefully.
“Chicken-liver puree,” Tom announced while surreptitiously scraping his off with a knife and hiding it under a pile of spinach.
“Right,” concurred Gordon, also scraping, “although I’ve no idea how they’ve achieved this particular shade.”
“Oh!” exclaimed the lady, in considerable distress. “I will not eat it!”
“I’ll take a pass as well,” I said, stealthily scraping along with everyone else.
Luckily, the meal ended without further alarm, although the puree lingered psychically. And while I’ve no idea how my mess mates prepared for bed that evening, I for one said a short, sweet prayer: Thank God for spinach!
This article originally appeared in the July 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.