Monday, January 22, 2007

A Breed Apart

"Could I just have a cup of hot water, please?"

There are certain gatherings where this always occurs. Having taken pains to set up the tea and coffee well in advance, with insulated jugs of beverages on a tray, there will always be one person who wants something which involves another trip back to the kitchen.

"I'll just have to go and put the kettle on again. Biscuit?"

"Are they gluten free?"

"Um......no."

The location here is such that just providing the hot drinks at meetings can be a struggle. Mains water has only recently made it here and is currently disconnected anyway, due to an, as yet, unfound leak. The house is supplied with water from a spring, with a nifty filter unit built into the kitchen. So to make tea and coffee for more than a few people involves repeated boilings of the kettle and transporting the fruits of my labour to elsewhere in the building.

There is also no convenient place to just pop out and buy lunch. If we're making a day of it people have to bring their own supplies. So, when lunchtime comes around and everyone is rummaging in their bags for their sandwiches, there will always be that breed apart asking for "a bowl, a spoon and some boiling water for my couscous."

It's a conservator thing. Over the years I have noticed that conservators and curators have certain culinary tendencies. You could go round the table at lunch time and know which ones they are just from the food in front of them. A typical table in the staff room in winter would have the following:
  • sandwiches
  • sandwiches
  • pastie
  • sandwiches
  • two oatcakes and some grapes
  • pot noodle
Spot the conservator.

5 comments:

Sweaty. said...

How many legs has this conservator got? Spot seems an odd name for a heritage professional.

cogidubnus said...

We recently took our usual turn at hosting a (transport related) seminar at which the usual refreshments consist of (self-service) tea/coffee plus a couple of plates of biscuits...

As it looked like a long meeting this time, we upped the ante and provided a selection of sandwiches (including vegetarian) and various packets of crisps as well as the usual biscuits/tea/coffee...

To be fair, most were stunned and gratified by our "largesse" but of course there WAS the one dickhead who raised the obligatory "gluten-free" question... with some difficulty I tactfully refrained from the "f" word but did suggest he stick with the biscuits (non-gluten-free) as usually provided by HIS organisation among others...

Wonder if It'll be me or one of the other (more harmless) company nominees selected for the next meeting?

Anonymous said...

What if you actually can't provide a bowl, spoon, and boiling water?
I bet one meal of raw couscous would encourage them to bring their own next time.

Which one eats the pot noodle?

monica said...

i agree that it is very very frustrating; i am particularly intolerant (ha!) as i am one of those 'gluten-free?' people, but would never assume i was catered for and consequently never leave the house without adequate supply of oatcakes (and chocolate).
more personal responsibility required, i think

Doris said...

Sweaty - the conservators can have all sorts of names....and legs....we don't discriminate here, you know.

Cogidubnus - the cheekiest situation I had was a visiting expert, giving a talk, for which I was paying them, requesting a gluten free option at refreshment time. So, I went out and bought a whole packet of gluten free goodies, thinking they would cover any talk attendees (who were paying for the event anyway) and the guest speaker. I later spotted her putting the whole packet in her bag at the end of the talk!

Stitchwort - I am far too nice to be able to sit and watch someone crunching on raw couscous. I'd end up having to go and make them something to eat anyway, so might as well go foraging for utensils. Oh, and I eat the Pot Noodle, of course!

Monica - not everyone takes responsibility for their own dieatary requirements, sadly, and expectations from service providers are high. Which is fine if you're a paying punter visiting the tea room, but if you're a colleague coming to a meeting it's a slightly different matter.