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The Best of the Firehouse Dinner Table

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By John Morse

One of the biggest challenges and also one of the biggest benefits of being a firefighter is the dinner table.  When you get a bunch of guys together it can be quite a challenge to put together a good meal that makes everyone happy.  Some people think cooking at a restaurant can be difficult.  Think about what it would be like for that restaurant chef if he could only put one item on the menu.

Not only do you have to prepare good food, the cook also needs to keep everyone happy with the price.  Firehouse meals are paid for by the firefighters, and we all have a different opinion on the cost of meals. The traditional cost for lunch way back when was $2, and dinner would be either $3 or $5.  Today the minimum to put food on the table is $10 per day.

When you are lucky enough to have someone who will cook everyday meals can be as simple as putting your money on the table and forgetting about the rest.  Some firefighters have a hard time bringing $10 to work with them for meals, daily trips to the ATM really mess things up, and then that one guy who is too old fashioned for an ATM has to go cash a check.

When you don’t have a regular cook, you might have to rotate through a couple people who don’t mind taking a turn in the kitchen.  When you have no one that stands up to take the chef job, you can either order out or agree that since no one wants to cook everyone will take a turn in a cooking rotation.  You can really find some bad cooks when everyone takes a turn.  Some guys will even have their wife or mother prepare a meal and bring it in for dinner.  Then there is always the guy that makes the same old dish every time he cooks.

Some of the best meals over the years have been spicy round steak, shrimp pasta, and spaghetti with meat sauce.  My personal favorite is a blackened chicken sandwich.  Too bad the blackening spice recipe will never be given out. Steak is always a good choice, but it can be pricey.  And then you get into the whole problem of rare, medium, or some combination.  I am one of the few people that liked the rice with orange juice so it didn’t last long. If you feel adventurous it is just regular white rice but replace the water with orange juice, or orange pineapple juice

A good cook has a good list of favorites in his head and also isn’t afraid to try something new.  On one hand you have the guy that knows how many slices of ham and cheese he needs to take care of lunch, and exactly what will be the side dishes with that every time.  The other extreme is the guy that convinces everyone to pitch in a couple extra bucks and then thinks he can roll that beef tenderloin in coffee grounds for a change of pace.

A good cook is hard to find.  Too bad they don’t add some cooking questions on the entrance exam.  If you have a good cook make sure you thank him once in a while.  If you don’t have a good cook forget about food, and just order a pizza.

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