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Friday, 14 August 2009

The Dinner Party

By Nancy Leitz

When we first moved back to Pennsylvania from Virginia, we bought our house in Plymouth. Roy was still working for John Borden & Bro. but he was no longer fixing boilers in convents (See Roy Wins The Thermostat War). His experience and the expertise gained by working at NASA at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, had advanced his career to the point that he was now the project manager on the construction of two office towers being built in Philadelphia.

One evening when Roy came home from work he was all excited about having invited his boss and his wife to our house for dinner on the following Wednesday.

Well, I thought, good thing I have that Betty Crocker cook book with 350 "easy to fix" meals in it. Surely one of those recipes would serve the purpose.

I was not a very good cook at that time and the family was still talking about the famous pot of turkey soup I had made a few weeks before. Mom Leitz had instructed me on how to make the soup and part of the verbal recipe called for a "little" rice. Well, a little rice to me was a couple of cups.

I added the rice to the broth which contained the turkey bits and vegetables and put the lid back on the pot. After about 20 minutes I began to hear this strange rattling coming from the kitchen. It was the lid bouncing up and down, banging against the pot but before I could reach it, the banging stopped because now the rice was pushing the lid higher and higher.

It was a solid block of rice rising out of the pot and at that very moment, Roy walked in from work. He took one look at the mound of rice and very calmly asked me if I was preparing a meal for Ho Chi Min's army. It would take a while to live that down.

So now I was confronted with having Mr. and Mrs. Boss for dinner. They were nice people and I had met them both several times and liked them very much. EXCEPT, I was very intimidated by them. They were old Philadelphia Main Line Society types. Think Hepburn and Grant on their beautiful terrace in Bryn Mawr discussing having dinner across the tracks with the Leitz Family.

But, Roy had invited them so I started planning a special dinner for their enjoyment. Here is what I made. I started on Monday for the Wednesday dinner.

First, I bought a top grade ham. It was a 10-pound beauty. I baked it exactly as directed by the butcher. I slit the rim of fat on the top and inserted a whole clove in each block. Then I painted a mixture of ginger ale, mustard and honey over the top and put it in the oven for precisely two hours and 30 minutes at 350 degrees. When it was done I took it from the oven and let it cool before refrigerating it for the night.

On Tuesday, I went to Mom's house and borrowed her HAND-CRANKED meat grinder. I sliced all the meat off the ham and cut it into cubes. Then I spent hours and tons of energy pushing all that meat through the grinder. When it was all ground up I again refrigerated it for the night.

Finally, Wednesday, the big day dawned and my work continued. I took the huge bowl of ground up ham out of the fridge and proceeded to add all sorts of exotic spices that had been recommended in the Betty Crocker cook book.

Then, with back-breaking effort, I shaped the seasoned ham into a lovely loaf and again baked it in the oven till time to serve.

The guests arrived. We served a cocktail and a few tidbits before adjourning to the dining room. The table looked very nice with a white cloth and candles glowing. Our guests sat down and I went into the kitchen to get my wonderful creation. It was only when I saw the loaf of ham on the platter and was about to set it before my guests that I realized just what I had spent three days making for this very special dinner.

What I had made and was now about to serve was a giant – SPAM.

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Nancy you can never run out of stories. This is too good. Is it possible that you actually invented Spam?

Your story reminded me of my first cake baking effort. I did not have a recipe but I did have cake, flour and eggs and wondered "how hard can it be?". After mixing portions I baked it, cut small squares, dropped one and it literally bounced around the kitchen floor. I created rubber:)

I LOVE this story. What did they and/or your husband say? I was thinking that you were fixing a delicious Southern style ham dinner.

Nancy, I am new here, looking forward to reading more of your stories.


Oh my God all that work.....SPAM. Nancy, you are a gem. I can only imagine how wonderful you were back then and how lucky your family has been over the years to have you....and to actually live out all these wonderful stories with you. May you always be blessed with love and wit dear lady....

Well done! Nancy

Ho Chi Min's army would have been proud of you and your spam.

Dear Nancy, you do have such a wonderful ability to make me weep/weak with laughter.

THANK YOU for another great story!

I have a pic. of my husband & me in our post graduate dump, at our tiny table with a clove covered Spam.

I hope you used cloves to make it :)SPECIAL:)

Nancy, you as always, are good for my eyes! The tears of laughter are streaming down my face.

The first time I made wheaten bread, it weighed a tonne. It was Christmas time and my mother was ill. My brothers were not missing a trick so they gift wrapped it and put it under the tree as a gift for my uncle from his favourite niece!

Oh Nancy.......that's one of the best stories I've ever heard. Thanks so much. :)

SPAM is good! Suddenly I am getting hungry and I just had lunch.

You should have told your husband and quests that you were having a Hawaiian meal, because "spam" is very popular their. They would have never known. Great stories!!

Elbow macaroni & a son who wanted to cook for mom.
Thanks for the memories and a fun to read story.

I knew your story would be funny, Nancy, and I wasn't disappointed. All that work to serve Spam. Tee Hee!

Hi Annie,

Now if only you had baked four cakes in round pans,you would have had new tires for your car....

Hello Miss Dazey,

Thanks for reading the story and also for the nice comment. If you look to the right of the stories, you will see a box marked STORYTELLERS Click that and a drop down box will show you the names of all the storytellers. Click on any name and their stories will come up for you to read.

Yes,Joy all that work and I had created SPAM. All I needed to further impress my guests would have been to serve it in a blue can and give everybody their own key.

Hi Steph,

I am so happy that you feel well enough to comment. Thank you for you kind remarks and take good care of yourself.

Dear BHB,

Yes, I did use cloves and I can just picture you and Hubby in your little apartment eating Spam.

You know,BHB, you would think that now that we are older and more privileged, we would be glad to be out of the post graduate dump. But, the truth is, we look back at those days with longing and love. True?


Do you think that same loaf of Wheaten bread is still making the rounds like that famous fruit cake they claim is the only one in the World? If you get it back as a gift,you'll know....

Hi Mage,

Thanks so much for your nice comment.I am happy that you liked my story.

Yes, James hurry and make your Spam sandwich before it's too late and all the Spam in the World is gone...Like that is ever going to happen.

Hello Mil,

I wish you had told me this years ago. I would have put on my best MuuMuu and lei and served that Spam on some nice banana leaves with Don Ho singing in the background.

Oh,boy,Helen I think you should write that story about your son and the macaroni and send it to Ronni so we could all read it.

Hi Darlene,

Yes, it was a lot of work but we are still laughing about it, so I guess it was worth it to have such a funny memory to share...

And I'll bet the original ten-pound ham was poem-worthy before you hacked it up, too! Sigh. Personally, I like Julia Child's philosophy when she put food on the table: NEVER APOLOGIZE!

Great story.

Oh, I didn't apologize, Nance. First of all, I had never heard of Julia Childs in those days. Betty Crocker was my food consultant then and right up until the last minute I thought she would have been proud of me.

I'm sure Julia would have told me not to hack up that nice ham but Betty was there "egging" me on to greater glory.

Thanks for your comments. Always appreciated..


I don't know whether it was spam you made;for one thing, you could identify all the ingredients...

funny though

You are so right,Nikk, there were of lot of mystery ingredients in Spam. Sort of like Scrapple;you were never sure you wanted to know...

Thanks for reading the story and taking the time to comment.

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