A Night at the Soup Kitchen

Household aluminium foil

My husband and I volunteered at a soup kitchen with his church last Saturday.

Mexican Chicken was on the menu.

We were on the “cooking” team. I’m not much of a cook,  but I did what I could. Usually, when I ask my friends if I can help with dinner, they tell me, “Sure, why don’t you go in the OTHER ROOM and watch tv.”  My first task was to put the lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber slices into the large serving pans, and cover them with aluminum foil. Safe enough. My husband, who is much braver than I, carried them across the freshly-washed and still-wet, slippery floor to the refrigerators. He did NOT slip, and salad did NOT fly around the room.

There was one guy designated to cut the chicken up. One woman cooked the chicken on the stove grill top. My husband wrestled with the large can opener to open the family-sized cans of black beans and corn. Then the corn had to be “strained” in a huge strainer, and the corn juice saved for later on.

One woman mixed up the beans, corn, chicken, corn juice and spices in a big bowl. The mixture was then put into large pans, which *I* covered with aluminum foil. I’m very good at that task, as you can see. I was the official foiler.

My husband then put the pans into the oven.  He’s a handy guy to have around.

We took a break, and went into the “gathering” area, where the tables and chairs were arranged for the expected guests. Dinner was to be served at 4:30. People began arriving at 3:30. I was sitting next to the woman in charge, Kathy, who was telling us how procedures are normally followed, who makes up the recipes, etc.

There were two women sitting a few feet away from me. I couldn’t hear what they were saying. When I got up to go back into the kitchen, my husband said that one woman was upset because I was sitting in her chair!

Other people came in, and went to their own chairs. I guess that’s human nature; when you ride the bus, you sit in the same seat every day.

At 3 pm, huge pots of water were put onto the stoves, and set to boil so that we could cook rice. Kathy said just eye-ball it and throw it in at 4 o’clock. But one of the women there was an Engineer; she found a pan and measured the water EXACTLY to what it needed to be so that we would NOT make soggy rice. Heaven forbid! I kind of like soggy rice, but there again, I was not put in charge of the rice.

About 4 pm, my husband took the pans out of the oven, and I was allowed to pull back the foil, sprinkle cheese on the food, and put the foil back on. Hubby then put the pans back into the oven. (You can’t go wrong with cheese…)

A second team of people came in at 4:30 to be the “servers” of the food. We were then relieved of duty.

I guess I was humbled by the experience. I thought I was going to feel good about helping other humans, but all I was really qualified to do was put foil on pans. On the bright side, I did NOT cause any kitchen disasters. So I guess that was helpful.

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