Clash of the Dinner Manners at Food Buzz Festival Gala Dinner

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Up to this point of the food buzz festival, I had a great experience. But, I’ve saved the worst and best for last.

• Champagne Breakfast at Bodillos as part of a focus group with the staff of Food Buzz
• Shoe Purchases at the Nordstrom Twice Yearly Sale
• The Street Food Extravaganza at Ft. Mason
• The Farmer’s Market at Ferry Plaza
• The Food Pavilion featuring over 30 booths of divine bites
• More Shoes Shopping…

I take none of this for granted. This is blessed beyond belief. Our life was turned slightly upside down in 2009 when my husband lost his corporate job. He started working on his own business and landing some consulting work THE VERY SAME DAY and he never collected unemployment. Our trip to Italy was cancelled and there has been no vacation together until this week, as he joined me in San Francisco as he came to the AES show. (audio engineering society). We extended our stay by four extra days, which for us is very decadent right now, because every moment away from the business is a bit scary. I saved my money all summer so we could stay in a nice hotel, shop, and eat at nice restaurants. This is our passion, what we love to do, and we especially love to do it together.

My story could be your story. Perhaps it was a sacrifice for you to take your last vacation or maybe you were one of food bloggers that found a way to make it to San Francisco, but it cost a you in savings or work time. Perhaps, you’re reading this and are still trying to get out from under that pile of work or bills to enjoy your own dream.

And, what could be dreamier than getting together with other people from around the world that share your passion for good food and for cooking?

A LOT of effort from several people and companies went into making this a solid, classy affair prepared by Paula Le Duc Catering, sponsored by the Cooking Channel. The executive chef, Daniel Capra, was rightly nervous to set four fine courses before 300 food bloggers.

Paula Le Duc Catering, Executive Chef, Daniel Capra

The ever smiling Duo Dishes, Crystal and Amir on left.
Delicious Joan of Foodalogue and fabulous Greg of Sippity Sup

How cute is Ryan (the girl) who is phenomenal part of Food Buzz staff. Not sure who the other beautiful blogger is, but nice to meet you.

Food Buzz went to great strides to top last year and to make this a special evening. Each course was paired with Bonny Doon wine.

First Course: Roasted Golden Beet Tart
Crimson Beet, Feta and Currants, Wild Arugula and Basil Puree.

I liked every bite of this dish and would love to have the recipe and make this at home. It was sheer perfection for someone like me, who loves beets and custards and tarts.

Second Course: Seared Scallops with Bonny Doon Vineyard Verjuse Beurre Blanc, with Braised Fennel and Fried Fennel Fronds.

Main Course: Rosemary and Garlic Infused Rack of Lamb served with Local Wild Mushrooms, Pinot Sauce, and Butternut Squash Puree

The Ferry Plaza has a beautiful venue for large dinner parties. On this given evening, it comfortably fit 350 dinner guests, all food bloggers, but when the main course was served, it was more like meeting the big bad wolf than Mary’s little lamb.

I was raised to sit at the dinner table for long hours, feasting on good food, debating feisty topics, and being entertained by the best in comedy and drama. I’ve talked before about my grandmother and her vanity at the table. She was a beauty and one fine Sunday did a little strip tease to show her “girls” off as the sign of “how young she looked for her age.” This was not out of the ordinary, a bit controversial, but not unkind, and not anything that ruined a meal. And, to this day, we sit and argue politics and religion which I refuse to take off topic in my own house, as long as my guests allow a prayer to be said before the meal, all thoughts can be put on the table.

I only expect some good manners with that roar of opinion. A cloth napkin on the lap makes me feel good. A “please pass the butter” and “thank you” adds a nice touch to the candlelit, white tablecloth ambiance.

This is, of course, home that I am talking about. If my guests aren’t having a good time, I’m not either. I know that it’s more than the food that matters. It’s the friendship and the warmth and the expression of civility. Generations before us put together their ideas for civilized eating. It’s not so much choosing the right fork for the salad, but it’s knowing that someone thought of everything so your meal would be as enjoyable as possible.

Silverware is the expression of culinary skill. A soup gets a spoon. A piece of meat gets a fork and butter gets a knife. Silverware (or chopsticks) is a mark of civilization and everything that has gone into creating a cuisine that is more than raw meat on a dead animal.

But, silverware takes a very dark turn, when a dinner guest you don’t know and haven’t conversed with looks at you when the main course comes and says, “hey bitches, who took my knife?”

In this setting, who expects this? Too many fantastic, lovers of life and good times came together to celebrate their passion and to make friends. No one expects younger girls to pick on someone 10-20 years their senior at a sit down dinner. The context made me doubt my friend. I thought surely she is exaggerating, and, frankly, I owe her an apology. I didn’t really believe that the two girls at our table were mocking her clothing, her cleavage, physically messing with her camera and, in a word, bullying her. Not here, not in this context. This was not the high school cafeteria or gym locker room.

But, when unprovoked and out of the blue, the yelling across the table with the word bitches flew in my face, I realized in one flash how true the bible is when it says “life and death are in the power of the tongue.”

The evening was over for us. Killed. Dinner was ruined. We took our entrees in our hands and searched for another table the way the picked on girl does in school. And, although we were served our dessert at a If you are wondering why we chose to leave the table, I did a sanity check. Surely, I heard wrong.

Why did you say such a thing?, I asked this girl.

And, in a brazen, snarky tone, she looked at me, and said “why wouldn’t I? In other words, she was defiant, not joking, and truly believed she had her rights to express her dirty mouth any way she chose. I have a master’s degree in clinical psychology and I know when something is funny and something is antagonistic. I know.

She clearly felt she had the right to say whatever she wanted. But did she?

I was a dinner guest of Food Buzz, invited as a publisher, and there was no right of any guest to start a bullying fight in the middle of the room at a beautiful table, as the main course was being served.

A dinner guest has an obligation to respect the host, the event and all the other guests.

I left the table with my food in hand because I was about to say something I might regret. And, I thought of every other guest in the room. They had the right to a peaceful night, and I didn’t want this to spill over and ruin their good memories.

You might be thinking “why not overlook it?” And, I thought that same thing during the first two courses. But, this is not an action to overlook. It was a highly charged evening for us, and sadly, my friend’s last moments of her Food Buzz experience. Her flight was at 5:00 a.m. the next morning, so she left early, and with this as her last memory. She had the right to a safer time. She deserved civility and respect. If only this young blogger knew her story, maybe she would have held her tongue. She just recovered from a tough bout with cancer and instead of covering up her scar with a scarf, she showed it. I have no idea why they chose to pick on her, except that there are people who look more timid than others and it makes a bully feel powerful to exert their aggression on someone weaker.

I’m not going to name this blogger, but I am going to appeal to her to think about this the next time she is an invited guest. Respect the guests of your host. Respect your host, and respect yourself. Respect the art of dining. Respect hospitality. If you can’t do that, then stay home.

Today, that reckless tongue cost someone else their joyful moments. But, tomorrow, Miss Blogger, it may cost you something personally. You don’t know what opportunity you may lose in relationships, in career or otherwise because you choose your words your way.

When you can’t find your knife and you want to cut your lamb, you don’t look to others and say, “hey bitches who took my knife?” And, then run around the room bragging that you chased two other bloggers away from their table by calling them bitches.

I hope I made the right choice in sharing this. It’s all true. It’s not exaggerated.

It was like being mugged. Something so unexpected happened to me in a place I expected a great memorable evening, and I can’t get what was stolen back.

The God I have faith in tells me this could have been me, if not for his grace on my life. I haven’t always chosen my words well either, and I’ve probably said something at sometime that has hurt someone. I apologize for that. And, maybe in writing about this, I can inspire others to watch their words.

Tell me reader, you must have an opinion about this, and I would love to hear from you.

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