Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Humor in Uniform – “Eggs to Order”

Foodie Humor in Uniform 

A Spoof

In the 1970– when I served on Navy Warships – at sea – the steward would wake you up in the morning with a cup of tea – and – he would ask you: 

“Sir – Eggs to Order...? 

This was the first decision an officer had to make during the day – what type of eggs to eat for breakfast...

On most ships the choice ranged from simple Boiled Eggs or Fried Eggs  to the more elaborate Masala Scrambled Eggs on Toast, Cheese Omelette, French Toast etc 

In the 1970– Eggs were served with ham, bacon, sausages etc – but later – with the advent of authorised rations for officers – these items disappeared from Navy Breakfast Menus.

One of my friends from the erstwhile Supply and Secretariat (S&S) Branch once quipped  what type of Eggs to Order for Breakfast – that was the most important decision a Naval Officer had to make at Sea during the entire day.

During my visits to New Zealand – I saw that the most popular Breakfast dish was Eggs Benedict – which basically consists of toasted halves of English Muffin topped with Poached Eggs, Hollandaise Sauce and Ham, Bacon, Spinach etc 

Here is a picture of Eggs Benedict  

Eggs Benedict - Poached Eggs, Ham, Bacon, Spinach on Toasted Muffin

In the Eggs Benedict picture above – the creamy yellow yolk seems to have escaped from the white of the poached eggs and spread all over imparting its delicious taste. 

Here is a picture of a Poached Egg with the Yolk intact and enclosed.

Poached Egg

Looking at Poached Eggs reminded me of a story from my Navy Days. 
Yes – when I saw those yummy Poached Eggs adorning the Eggs Benedict during my recent  New Zealand visit – I was reminded of this hilarious ‘poached eggs’ anecdote in the Wardroom of a Navy Frontline Warship many years ago – in the 1980’s. 

(Wardroom is Navy Parlance for Officers Mess

POACHED EGGS FOR THE “SEA DOLL” – A Spoof by Vikram Karve

When I served at sea in the Navy – 40 years ago – in the 1970’s – warships were classified into 3 types – and – this made it necessary to have separate ‘streams’ for training.

Accordingly – Officers and Sailors would be assigned to one of the ‘streams’ and be trained for selected equipment in that ‘stream’ – and appointed on ships of relevant stream for which they were trained.

The 3 basic ‘Streams’ were:

1. “A” Stream comprising the latest “Western Origin” Ships like Leander Class Frigates.

2. “B” Stream comprising older “Western Origin” Ships.

3. “C” Stream comprising the latest Soviet (Russian) acquisition ships.

“A” Stream Ships comprised brand new “Western Origin” Ships like the comfortable Leander Class Frigates of British Design. 

As you know – the ‘British Navy’ is called the ‘Royal Navy’ 

So – “A” Stream Ships were “Royal” too – with snobbish stiff-upper-lip “Royal Culture” – and consequent ‘class distinctions’ between Officers and Sailors.

On the other hand – “C” Stream Ships of “Eastern Origin” (Soviet Union/Russia) – with their Socialist Egalitarian Design – these ships were comparatively ‘Spartan’ as far as ‘creature comforts’ were concerned – the focus being on densely ‘packing in’ maximum equipment – with lesser emphasis on ‘creature comforts’ and cozy habitability.

Life on “C” Stream ships was austere and grueling as compared to “A” Stream ships.

“C” Stream Officers enviously called “A” Stream Ships as “Hotel Ships”.

Another advantage of “A” Stream Ships was that – those days – “A” Stream“ Western Origin” ships were based at Mumbai (then called Bombay)

On the other hand – most “C” Stream “Eastern Origin” Ships were based at Visakhapatnam (Vizag) – which – in those days – in the 1970’s – was a “one street town”

(Of course – now – Visakhapatnam is a modern vibrant metropolis and a beautiful city)

I was lucky to be allotted “A” Stream 

So – I enjoyed myself thoroughly on my first two ships – both were comfortable Frigates of which were based in Mumbai.

After a few years – I was expecting to be appointed on a “A” Stream ship. 

But – someone in NHQ got some crazy ideas about “cross-pollination” and “cross-fertilization” – so – I landed up on a “C” Stream ship.

My ship was a frontline Destroyer – at that time – the most powerful and modern warship in the Navy – with state-of-the-art weapon systems and equipment.

Of course – though not as austere as earlier “C” Stream ships – my new ship was not as comfortable as her contemporary “A” Stream “Hotel Ships”.

My new ship was “first of its class” – built in the Soviet Union (Russia) – and – in the true spirit of egalitarian socialist “comradeship” – there was no separate galley (kitchen) for officers.

So – food for officers was cooked in the common galley along with sailors’ food – and the food had to be carried by stewards all the way down the alleyway to the wardroom which was quite far away from the ships galley. 

Hence – the stewards had a tough time – especially while sailing – when the full complement of officers would descend in the wardroom for meals.

To make matters worse – our ship was designated “Flagship” most of the time – with an additional complement of “Fleet Staff” also eating in the wardroom.

Thus – the wardroom – which was already strained catering to the ship’s officers – had to provide for supernumeraries as well.

During one such sailing – we were sitting for breakfast. 

I noticed a new Commander from the Fleet Staff – he seemed to have been newly posted to the Fleet Staff.

I looked at the Commander.

He seemed to be a “stiff-upper-lip” Royal Navy Style “Sea-Doll” 

He was certainly from the“A” Stream.

The steward asked us: 

“Eggs to order, Sir…?”

Now – during sailing – in view of the fact that the food had to be carried to the wardroom from common ship’s galley which was quite far away – generally – there were just two choices in “eggs to order” 

You either had Boiled Eggs  or you had a Masala Omelette” 

I ordered my customary “Masala Omelette”.

The Commander said: 

“Poached Eggs” 

I smiled to myself: 

“Ha Ha – Poached Eggs”. Ha Ha  on this ship…!!!”

This guy was certainly a snobbish type from the “A” Stream 

Maybe – he had even commanded one of those “Hotel Ships”.

After some time – the steward placed an “Omelette” in front of me (as I had ordered).

And – to my amusement – the steward placed an “Omelette” in front of the “Sea-Doll” Commander too.

The “Sea-Doll” Commander looked at the “Omelette”. 

Then – the “Sea-Doll” Commander angrily said to the Steward: 

“I ordered ‘Poached Eggs’ – not an ‘Omelette’ – take this ‘Omelette’ away and get me ‘Poached Eggs’ …”

The Steward took the “Omelette” away.

After some time  another Steward placed Two ‘Boiled Eggs’ in front of the snooty Commander. 

On seeing the ‘Boiled Eggs’ – the Commander shouted at the Steward:

“I don’t want bloody ‘Boiled Eggs’ – I ordered ‘Poached Eggs’ …” 

This was going to be fun.

There was still time for “Both Watches” – so – I ordered another ‘Omelette’ – and I waited in eager anticipation – for events to unfold.

After a long wait – a Steward landed up with two “Bulls Eye” Soft ‘Fried Eggs’ – and placed them in front of the Commander.

The astounded Commander had a look at the ‘Fried Eggs’. 

The ‘high and mighty’ Commander barked at the hapless Steward: 

“What the hell is this…? 

These are ‘Fried Eggs’. 

Don’t you know what ‘Poached Eggs’ are…? 

Call the bloody ‘Chief Steward’…” 

The Chief Steward duly landed up.

The snobby Commander scolded the Chief Steward: 

“Don’t your Stewards and Cooks know what a ‘Poached Egg’ is…? 

I have ordered ‘Poached Eggs’ 

And – these buggers got me an ‘Omelette’ 

Then – they got me ‘Boiled Eggs’ – and – then – ‘Fried Eggs’ 

They are giving me all types of Eggs – except ‘Poached Eggs’ …”

The Chief Steward tried to explain: 

“Sir – on this ship – we have a common galley…” 

But – the ‘stuck-up’ Commander shouted at the Chief Steward: 

“Don’t give me bullshit – just get me ‘Poached Eggs’ – do you understand…?”

I finished my second ‘Omelette’ – and coffee – but the ‘Poached Eggs’ had still not arrived.

“Both Watches” was piped – so I excused myself – and left the wardroom.

I do not know what happened after that – whether the snooty Commander got his ‘Poached Eggs’ or not.

But – a hilarious thing happened next morning.

The moment the snobbish “Sea-Doll” Commander arrived and sat down for breakfast – a Steward opened the wardroom fridge. 

And – from the fridge – the Steward took out a pair of cold Poached Eggs (prepared the previous night).

The cold soggy Poached Eggs were placed in front of the snobbish Commander.

I looked at the stale cold crumpled soggy Poached Eggs.

The refrigerated shrivelled Poached Eggs looked most unappetizing – to say the least.

The high and mighty Commander looked at the hideous shriveled cold Poached Eggs

From the expression of nausea on his face – it looked as if he was going to throw up. 

The “Sea-Doll” Commander ordered the Steward:

“Take these horrible Poached Eggs away – and get me an Omelette…” 

I smiled to myself.

As my “C” Stream friends used to say: 

“C” Stream is a great leveller.

But one thing was sure: 

“Camaraderie was much better on “C” Stream Ships 

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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1. This story is a fictional spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh.
2. All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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