On Tuesday, September 22 I was given 2 tickets for a church dinner at the United Methodist Church in Elm Grove. A total retail value of $16.00. Far be it from me to dismiss a free dinner. I'd be willing to dine with some of the most despised figures in history (Hitler, Stalin, Obama, etc.) provided they feed me. So Friday was the big day. Justin, Danno and I had just finished golfing at Wheeling Puke. Before heading to the Alpha, I deemed it necessary to cash in these tickets. Elm Grove was a traffic nightmare. Translated into Wheeling terms that means there was a line of over 50 cars on National Road which would take an 5 extra minutes. We parked and headed in.
I had never been to this particular church and you could tell there was a definable, palpable sense of excitement in the air. We calmly entered the recreational center of this house of God. There were a few people congregated by the door and for one brief second, my scalping instincts almost kicked in. Hell, I could have gotten 2 for $15. Fortunately, I reconsidered. It would have been in incredibly poor taste - trying to dish off 2 comp dinner tix w/ the negligible dollar off.
I couldn't help but notice - this crowd was kind of like an Ohio County Mehlman's Cafeteria. Very old. A virtual zephyr of cascading white hair. I'd say about 120 men and women were there, all over the age of 70. I spotted about 3 children. Of course, we got there early (about 5:10pm), well before the probable dinner rush, well before they got the party started up in the church n'at. We quickly zipped to a back room and were warmly greeted. Asked to make our selections, Justin opted for dark meat and Dutch apple pie. I went for the more conventional white meat and chocolate cake. Armed with a Riesbeck's bag of multiple styrofoam containers, we bolted for the door. I dropped him off and zipped to the Alpha. I would later eat my dinner around 8pm.
Here are my observations. I applaud the organizational and efficiency efforts of the Methodists. We were in and out in easily less than 3 minutes. Their preparation was stellar. I thought it might be one of those scenarios where we had to wait in a long buffet line, where elderly people made mindless chit chat about the weather and if there were any low sodium selections. Not the case.
All the food tasted great, but had an overwhelming mushlike consistency. Of course, I would expect that mashed potatoes have a creamy origin, but the chicken breast also had this overcooked, melt-in-your-mouth vibe. The green beans - same thing. They kind of disintegrated and became one with the soaked oil/margarine conglomerate. The coleslaw, aka mushslaw, was presented in an ill-sized container. The miniaturized roll was quite good. My chocolate cake came with a tiny container of some kind of pomegranate puree adornment. More likely it was raspberry jello topping.
So here's my final review of church dinner...
The food was just way too mushy. There's probably a direct correlation between mushiness and lack of teeth.
The energy level in the place was slightly below mediocre.
The service and cooperation were outstanding. I'll refer to this as the overall quality of the production.
Fortunately, nobody tried to convert me. This event was not prepared for a good old fashioned food fight. Could you imagine the headline in the Wheeling today?
At 5:03pm Friday, Wheeling police responded to a food fight at 125 Kruger Street. Local police used pepper spray to contain an irate Eric Saferstein. Apparently, his combative nature was the direct result of an earlier argument. A United Methodist Church representative claimed he was hurling accusations at the dinner crowd. "A pox on your house of worship. A pox on your godless gruel! It's all mushified damnit! Jesus Christ died for this chicken dinner!"
The Wheeling Police Chief later commented, "We had to take the biatch down, G20 style."