Friday, June 22, 2018

moqueca: a success?

I'm pretty ashamed of the moqueca I ended up making (hence the lack of photos), but I took it to the office, anyway, and fed almost twenty people... all of whom raved about it. By my lights, the monster-sized stew was poorly seasoned, watery, and too salty-tasting despite not having much salt in it. I had just enough seafood to give everyone a single large serving; the Korean staffers whom we'd invited over for the luncheon came back for seconds, and they were happy just to have the stew's broth to pour over their rice. I was, to be frank, surprised at how well everything worked out. Even the boss, who has had enough of my cooking to be picky about it, said this was a better batch than last time. Most surprising of all was that there were no complaints about tough seafood. I had par-cooked the various critters (scallops, cod, and jumbo shrimp) separately, with the purpose of throwing them all into the soup to finish off with a 2- or 3-minute quick boil. I guess that worked out well, even though I was pretty sure the shrimp ended up a bit tougher than it should have. That said, there was nary a complaint.

These luncheons normally aren't so stressful, but today, I was nearly in panic mode. First, the "SIS" staffers are fairly numerous, so if the lunch had failed, it would have failed big. That would have affected my reputation. Second, the relationship between our department (R&D) and the SIS department has been occasionally rocky because of the sometimes-prickly interaction between the bosses of these departments. It doesn't help that the head of SIS is also the Number Two person in our entire organization. A luncheon failure could have become a diplomatic nightmare. Third, I just wasn't confident in the quality of today's stew, so I was stressed because that's the headspace that my pride put me in: I knew I was serving below-par food. Lucky for me, this was a forgiving audience.

Whew. The day went surprisingly well, but I can't shake the queasy feeling that I somehow got away with something. This was a victory, but an unearned one.

Anyway, I can't think straight. Will just melt into my chair, now.

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