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A 5-Star dinner!

Discussion in 'Cheeniya's Senile Ramblings' started by Cheeniya, Apr 3, 2007.

  1. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Last week we had gone to a Star Hotel for dinner to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. We were led to the table reserved for us and seated comfortably by the stewardess clad in a bright yellow silk saree. A music troup dressed in traditional Indian attire was playing some semi classic film song in the garb of carnatic music. At the conclusion of each song, it was applauded by the guests who had requested for that number. The guests who had sent in their requests for a particular number could be easily identified by the broad grin that creased their faces the moment the music troup started playing their numbers.

    A few tables away, a chef who bore a striking resemblance to the high priest of a vaishnavite temple was churning out dosas of the size of a CD with exotic ingredients like a plantain and jack fruit. A few customers tried to strike conversation with him to show the other guests that they were regular patrons of the hotel. In between making a few dosas, the high priest walked to selected tables with a mug of filter coffee and thrilled everyone by pouring it from one mug to another with the arms placed more than a meter away! In short, it was quite evident that the hotel had taken a lot of special efforts to impart an authentic ethnic flavour not only to the food served but to the ambience as well.


    A few minutes after we were seated, the stewardess handed over to us the menu card which resembled an exquisitely bound version of some ancient Sanskrit literature. The items on the menu card were arranged region wise to facilitate zeroing in on a specific type of food. We glanced through the whole card silently. Each item bore a tongue twisting name but fortunately could be identified by a three line description in parenthesis of what it was all about. We took our time to order as we had to be extremely careful not to stray into unknown territories. I’ll tell you why.

    In one of our earliest encounters with a star hotel, we ordered for some items carrying strange but fancy names. After waiting for what looked like an eternity, the bearer brought a few copper vessels and placed them reverently before us. We took a fleeting glance at the stuff inside and our stomachs turned. Then I remembered what one of my wise friends told me once- “It is not enough what you eat tastes good but it should also look good!” And unfortunately what the bearer had brought in on this fateful day looked like something that cats normally brought in after their nocturnal prowls. In the instant case the bearer too added to the poignancy of the scene by giving us an impression that he must have actually got it wrested out of the possessive cat after a protracted argument!

    So, as I was telling you, we never took a chance from then onwards. We, therefore, decided to order for only what we knew by name. But I must confide in you that I was appalled when my daughter ordered for Vathal Kuzhambu (Rs 195) and potato curry (Rs 150). Everyone started ordering for such items as we normally ate at home daily. I remembered what a big critic of Vathal Kuzhambu my daughter had always been and here she was, beaming like a 1000 watt bulb, at her clever and safe selection of menu. I had always thought that we went to hotels to eat what we normally could not make at home. And to top it all, what was served as Vathal Kuzhambu and potato curry by these chaps could have caused an irreparable rift between me and my wife if she had made them that way at home.

    We all ate them in somber silence and before handing us a hefty bill, the bearer produced a printed questionnaire seeking a feed back about ambience, service, variety of menu, taste et al. We gave an excellent rating to every aspect and returned the questionnaire with a Thank you to the bearer which I thought was totally unnecessary. 10% of the bill amount exchanged hands as tips for the waiter in return for his contemptuous glance.
    As we drove back home, we were all in a silent reverie which I broke with my summing up “Five star is Five star” and my daughter snapped back saying “Shut up”! That 'Shut up' did not mean anything to me for I knew that we would be there again very soon!
     
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  2. Vidya24

    Vidya24 Gold IL'ite

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    Hi Cheeniya,

    Good one, Cheeniya. You bring it all out so well. I love the way you prick the bubble of impertinnece in the diners. How they converse with the chef to show their regular visits and familiarity. How we end up ordering simple, home fare and how the waiters humble us with just looks and tones. Loved this one.

    Dining in five star restaurants can be such a humbling experience . The level of ethnicity and tradition and rural bon homie that the ambience portarys can put a real Indian village to shame. A simple dining out is transformed into a mela in Rajasthan or Karuppangudi! When we were engaged and short of cash, we once ordered bhindi do pyaz for Rs 295 in Taj Mumbai. It was a dish mustered by ShahJehan and we were awed. The platter arrived with a simple mom made okra curry mixed with twice the amount of onion. We would have frowned at it back home.

    Look ahead to more.

    regards
    Vidya
     
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  3. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Vidya
    What appalls me most is our deteriorating sense of value! Nothing irritates me more than the sight of men trying to strike a conversation with the stewards and bearers to impress other jealous diners!
    "hello Govind!'
    Sir, I am not Govind Sir!
    "You are not? But you look so much like him! (A guffaw)
    What happened to Govind? Changed job again?"( A bigger guffaw)
    I dont know Sir!
    (The bearer goes to the kitchen and warns others about the big bore in Table 7. "He keeps talking about some Govind. Must be his relative who might have worked here and got booted out on Day 1!"
    Everyone laughs heartily in the kitchen!)
    Sri
     
  4. Vidya24

    Vidya24 Gold IL'ite

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    Cheeniya,

    A requesy for yr consideration. Now that New Posts and New threads- both show up prominently in the new home page, can you post all your articles in one thread? Sometimes, I miss your posts and see them only the next day. If you post them in the same thread, the members who replied to you earlier will get mail notifications. Feel free to decide as you see wise.

    cheers
    Vidya
     
  5. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Hi again Vidya
    I really dont understand these threads and posts et al! You'll have to educate me!
    Sri
     
  6. Vidya24

    Vidya24 Gold IL'ite

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    Hi Cheeniya

    Maybe it was not such a great idea. This present structure is good. See you round.

    cheers
    VR
     
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  7. Chitvish

    Chitvish Moderator IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Sri,
    Me again, please.
    You have scored again. Whenever children invite me to eat out, I have to strongly resist myself from saying, "Please, no". They call me with the "noble" intention of giving me a break from what they think is my mundane routine ! They realise not, I love that mundane routine so much !
    Very often the taste is mediocre but the dressing is exotic & the name is totally misleading , for many dishes.
    V has now made it a safe habit to excuse himself saying, that he has become so addicted to my cooking that he cannot eat food cooked by anybody else. I fully know that he does not mean a single word of what he utters, but a very safe way of excusing himself from eating out.
    I enjoyed this post thoroughly as much as I enjoy home made vathakuzambu and potato roast !
    Love,
    Chithra.
     
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  8. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Chitra
    The backbone of the statement 'Home sweet home' is the Vathal Kuzhambu and the potato curry! During my State Bank days, I had to be on tour frequently and I fully understood what it was to be back home!
    But I must tell you this on the basis of what I have observed in many homes. People just get accustomed to certain type of cooking for which they develop a great taste! Like Prof Higgins telling about Elisa Dolittle "i Have grown accustomed to her face!" Kakkaikku Than Kunju Pon Kunju applies to cooking as well.
    My co-brother eulogises my sister-in-law's cooking loudly with Sabash et al and I used to get mighty embarrassed as not being able to toe his line! And until my machini asks me how was the avial, I'll never know it was avial!
    Life is like that!
    Sri
     
  9. Kamalji

    Kamalji IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Sri,

    HAHA.Why do yr posts make me laugh.Everyone goes to a 5 Star, but u squeeze out a 10 star blog from it, with yr charishma and wit.


    You are right, in that we must eat there what we don’t get at home.And I don’t get Tandoori Chicken at home bcs u need a tandoor and no home has one.


    But the prices, well even if my enemy is treating me, I will not go.I cant swallow those prices.

    Sri, a friend of mine works in a 5 star.He is a stitching contractor of our garments and he keeps telling me their ratees, atrocious to say the least.


    A Bottle of Black Label, one litre costs us at Duty Free for 30 dollors, that around 1300/- and we get 16 and a half pegs of 60 ml from it.

    The 5 star charges 2700 plus taxes for one peg, that’s 3300, and the whole bottle drunk say in retial pegs, works out to 51000 /-

    Can u imagine , the criminal waste of money going there.Yes sometimes I have to go, with my Buyers, so that’s not a problem , we have max drinks at home and go and take a drink there, bcs we earn from him so that’s ok a few thousand .Or when someone special is there, otherwise for my own pleasure , never ever in my life I have gone there.

    And do u know the meat u eat over there, is over a year old ??????????????Comes in Bulk, though veggies are fresh, but peas is frozen for a year.
    Home Sweet Home, I agree with it.

    And a Black Label at home is much cheaper than an Indian whiskey in a ordinary Bar too.

    Amen.kamal
     
  10. Cheeniya

    Cheeniya Super Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Kamal
    You must be a great Cost Accountant I think! I have never thought about the vulgar profits that a 5 Star hotel would be making on a BL alone! And after paying all that money, one could only hope that the stuff served is genuine. I understand that more than 40% of BL sold in India is spurious stuff.
    Home Sweet Home yes! For more than one reason!
    Sri
     

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