Saturday, May 27, 2017

“Cold Cuts” – Foodie Humor in Uniform


Cold Cuts
Mouthwatering Memories of My Delightful Navy Days


This happened 32 years ago  in the mid 1980’s.

The moment I reported to IAT Pune, I was immediately given a “bum job” – Mess Secretary of the Officers’ Mess (of course, in addition to my primary instructional duties).

I duly reported to the President Mess Committee (PMC) in the Mess Office.

“Welcome to the IAT Officers’ Mess,” the PMC, an Air Force Group Captain said, “well, the first thing you will have to do is the valedictory dinner coming up this weekend – plenty of bigwigs are coming, so let’s have a grand affair.”

After uttering those words  the PMC disappeared  leaving everything to me.

I called the mess staff and I was delighted to see that there were two Navy Sailors – a cook and a steward.

I recognized the cook at once – he had served with me on a ship a few years ago and he was now a Petty Officer.

I looked at the Navy Cook and I said to him: 

“Let’s have a “Cold Cuts” spread for the valedictory dinner – like we used to have on the ship. I think it will be ideal for a hot summer evening.”

The cook’s face brightened up  and he said: 

“Very good idea, Sir. It will be a nice change from the usual butter chicken, mutter paneer, daal makhani menu.”

“Let’s have a Naval Pudding too...” I said.

“Sir, I can make Diplomat pudding or Trunk of Tree” dessert...” the cook said.

“Let’s have both Diplomat” and Trunk of Tree” – two desserts – for a grand finale – and – of course  we will have a lavish cold cuts spread which everyone will remember for a long time...” I said to the Navy Cook.

On the morning of the dinner  I personally went along with the cook to the market and stores in Pune Camp to select the assorted cold cut meats and other ingredients.

I wish I could show you pictures of the lavish Mixed Cold Cuts Buffet Spread that we had laid out on Banquet Tables on the plush lawns of the IAT Officers Mess.

But this happened 32 years ago  so the best thing I can do to whet your appetite  is to download from the internet some delicious “food porn” pictures of cold cuts for your perusal. 

This should give you an idea of what the delectable array of meats in a cold cuts buffet looks like – and how scrumptious and fulfilling a cold cuts banquet is. 

I am sure your mouth will salivate when you look at these delicious pictures of the succulent cold cuts.

                                          COLD CUTS – MEATS

                                                        COLD CUTS PLATTERS


                                                         COLD CUTS BUFFET SPREADS


                                       YUMMY COLD CUTS
 (Just imagine entire tables with such delicious mixed meat cold cuts spreads)


The valedictory dinner was a grand success.

Everyone appreciated the cold cuts buffet spread.

The PMC and I were sitting in his Office  feeling good in a self-congratulatory mood  when Colonel “S” walked in.

Colonel “S” was most unhappy with the dinner.

“What sort of menu is this for a party dinner...?” he complained.

“Everyone says the dinner was excellent – even I enjoyed the food...” the PMC countered.

“All of you are carnivores – in the dinner there were only meats and meats and meats – ham, salami, sausages, mutton, chicken, fish, luncheon meat – God knows what all was there – but there was nothing for vegetarians like me.”

“Sir, there was Russian Salad…” I tried to say.

“S” interrupted me: “There was egg in there…”

“Egg...? In the Russian Salad...? I don’t think so – though they do put in a few chopped boiled eggs in Russian Salad sometimes  I don’t think last night’s Russian Salad had eggs…”

“But it had mayonnaise – there is egg in mayonnaise – and one of the puddings had egg too – in the custard – this is total injustice to vegetarians – the only thing I could eat was those bread rolls, terribly tasting cheese and a few raw vegetables,” complained “S” bitterly.

“Okay  your point is noted...” the PMC said.

After “S” had gone away  the PMC said to me: 

“These bloody Pongos can’t appreciate good cuisine – I think we will have the standard Army Style party menu next time.”

So  for the next dinner party – we had the standard greasy spicy “Fauji” party menu.

But  “S” was still unhappy.

“S” started his sob story: “For the non-vegetarians there was chicken curry, fish fry, mutton…”

“Mutton..?” I said, surprised.

“In the small eats – don’t think I didn’t see the heaped plates of Boti Kababs, Seekh Kababs, Shami Kababs along with the Chicken Tikka, Fish Finger and Prawns – and  for the vegetarians – there were only peanuts and wafers…”

“And mixed pakoras – cauliflower, palak, potato, onion…” I added.

“S” interrupted me – and he asked me “Where is the equivalence...?”

“Equivalence...?” I said, nonplussed.

“Yes  where is the equivalence between the food served to non-vegetarians and vegetarians...?” asked “S”.

“Sir  in last evening’s menu for vegetarians – we had paneer, daal, palak, vegetables – all these have plenty of protein and vitamins just like non-vegetarians dishes – healthwise they have the same  maybe even better nutritional value…” I said.

“Who is talking of nutritional value...? I am talking of monetary value. I have calculated the cost of all the non-vegetarian food you served last night – it is double the cost of the vegetarian menu – and you charge the same amount of party share to vegetarians and non-vegetarians…”

“Sir, please…”

“And in that bloody western style cold-cuts party of yours – the disparity was even worse – it is total injustice for the vegetarians…” said “S” bitterly.

I was getting fed up of his diatribe so I said to the PMC: “Sir, let Colonel “S” organize the next party – let him decide whatever menu he wants.”

“S” readily agreed – and  the PMC gave his okay.

At the next party  the buffet spread out on the dining table was a bonanza for vegetarians – paneer shahi korma, mutter mushroom, malai kofta, dal makhani, Navratan Korma in rich Cashewnut gravy laden with pineapple and other fruit and a rich dry fruit embellished pulao – in short – the works.

And – on the non-veg side of the table – there was just a measly looking chicken curry  as if “S” had personally supervised the menu.

As usual  I was well prepared for the party  and – I had built up a good appetite – a game of 6-a-side hockey  a swim in the NDA pool  followed by 6 large pegs of Hercules XXX Rum – all this had made me happily high and voraciously hungry.

I had a look at the measly looking chicken curry.

I ladled in a leg piece of chicken and some curry on my plate.

I noticed “S” looking at me – he had a gloating look of triumph and victory.

I looked at the array of delicious dishes on the vegetarian table.

I could not resist the temptation  so I crossed over – and I started heaping my plate with the delicious vegetarian food preparations.

“S” suddenly appeared by my side – and he said to me: 

“You are non-vegetarian. Why are you taking vegetarian food...?”

“Who says that a non-vegetarian cannot eat vegetarian food...?” I countered “S” 

When “S” heard my question – he looked confused. 

So – I said to him: 

“Who is stopping you from eating non-vegetarian food...? If you want – you can also have non-vegetarian food. In fact  you should have enjoyed the delicious cold cuts that day...”

The PMC was overhearing our tête-à-tête.

“Yes  non-vegetarian has the best of both worlds  especially in the Defence Services...” the PMC commented, tongue-in-cheek.


If you are a pure vegetarian  it is best to steer clear of the Navy (Army and Air Force too).

And yes  the same applies if you are a teetotaller non-drinker too.

Quintessential Military Men are hard-drinking Non-Vegetarian Types.

But that is another story.

I will illustrate this aspect of the Navy in the next story on my Blog.

Till then – Cheers...!!!

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

1. This story is a spoof, 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. Pictures in this blog post are downloaded from the internet from free images websites with thanks and courtesy
3. 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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Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This story was written and posted earlier by me Vikram Karve on March 27, 2014 in this Academic and Creative Writing Journal Vikram Karve Blog 

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