By JULLIE Y. DAZA
Blondie, the wife of Dagwood in the long-running American comic strip about domestic bliss and misses, is a food caterer. She may not have been anyone’s inspiration, but as any partygoer will affirm, the entrepreneurial class have found a taste for food catering as their vocation.
If you watch the experts, catering has come a long way. The equipment, tools, utensils, not to mention cooks (chefs?), their assistants and menus are more sophisticated now, like the demand for fine service. And yet food poisoning won’t leave us be. Students suffer from upset stomachs because of something they ate in the canteen. Participants in en masse events “come down with something” after partaking of packed meals. Lunch served for 3,000 at a birthday party in a gym last week downed 261 guests. DOH suspected bacteria in adobo with steamed rice and a hardboiled egg, unshelled.
Swiftly, efficiently, the party’s sponsors and their volunteers labored to tackle the emergency. Patients were rushed by ambulance to 10 hospitals in Metro Manila and attended to with care and compassion. Where did the spoiled food come from? The hot weather was a suspect. Pinpointing the origin of the bacteria took time as there were 10 caterers who had supplied the meals. In addition, some of the drinking water came in bottles sans labels.
It’s almost masochistic for one caterer to feed hundreds at the same time in one place without a real kitchen. Think of the logistics, the time available to prepare, wash, cook, wrap a meal in plastic and paper, deliver to the appointed place and time. A party animal advises: “Stick to ‘safe’ food like fried chicken, stay away from stews.”
Days after the poisoning incident, I found myself at a party, out of town. The caterer’s workers told me they had arrived at the venue two days early for the setup: lunch for 310. Eight trucks carried the paraphernalia, from the tiniest teaspoon to the heaviest ref, chiller, oven, etc. Thank goodness, the mansion had a kitchen made for partying.