Proactive Bridesmaid's tale of mistaken breakfast buffet identity made me laugh out loud last night. It also reminded me of one of the funniest stories my friend Mike ever told in my presence.
Seems that Mike was at a buffet with friends, and on one of his trips to the steam tables he encounters a vat of yellow, fluffy, mousse-like material that he can't identify. So he scoops up a spoonful and glops it onto his plate. Back at the table, he starts eating it, remarking to his dining companions that he still can't figure out what it is. It's sweet, but it's not pudding, and it's not any recognizable flavor. One of his friends gives him a strange look. "Mike," he says. "That's butter."
Two food-related embarrassments spring to my mind, although neither of them involves a buffet. When I was a kid, my mom made shrimp cocktail for some fancy dinner party she was hosting (it was the seventies, when people served shrimp cocktail at home on sufficiently elegant occasions). I really enjoyed it, gnawing away at the kids' table in the breakfast nook. When Mom came to clear away the plates, she looked at my clean one. "Where are the shells?" she asked. I had eaten the entire shrimp, shell, tails, and all.
The other one also involves fancy food. On a visit to Miami, I went out with my former employer and bandmate Ben Lahey to a South Beach restaurant. The dish I order had a garnish of wasabi paste, which I had never seen before. In all innocence I scooped up a bit on my fork. "Careful, it's really hot," said Ben, but of course I thought: how hot can it be? I spent the next several minutes insisting that it wasn't really all that bad, and of course I'd had it before and knew what I was doing, while trying to dab away the tears from my eyes and casually get ice water refills.