Last month we were delighted to provide a three course meal for the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess at the 202 Midland Field Hospital. The dinner was to celebrate the 38 year career of a serviceman. Once again, I teamed up with my good friend, the highly excellent Emanuel M Popa.
Our first course was tomato soup, garnished with cream and herbs. The beef Wellington that made up the main course was cooked as individual crescent parcels and fell apart in the mouth it was cooked so close to perfection. We partnered it with creamy mashed potato and greens and were very pleased with the final dish. A great improvement on the rounder parcels we tried last time. Desert was chocolate brownies with lashings of custard. We finished with cheese and wine served in the Officers Mess.
The atmosphere was friendly and festive. The high table, where the person of honour sat, was highly decorated with silver ornamentation worth thousands of pounds. The glass glittered and a live harpist added to the luxury of the black tie event.
Mo, the woman whose job it was to ensure everything ran smoothly, is a fantastic woman and explained some of the more quirky traditions for a passing out dinner such as this. Just as what happens in Her Majesty the Queen’s presence, once the lead officer puts down their fork, everyone else has to finish their dinner too. No one, including myself, is even allowed to leave the building without her permission. Another officer has to bang on the table at a certain time to demand everyone leave to the officers mess for a comfort break; the waiters are then allowed to physically remove glasses of wine from officers’ hands mid sip if they don’t exit the room fast enough.
I know some may think these traditions are antiquated, but I think they’re just so fantastic. What a great heritage we have in this country? They bind the staff together and make the event so special. They give us comfort with their structure and certainty in a time of such change in our nation.
I’m looking forward to many more events like this one.