David Bruce: Food Anecdotes

Ice skating coach Frank Carroll (who is now Michelle Kwan’s coach) once explained to a mischievous young skater named Christopher Bowman — at the request of the young boy’s mother, who felt Christopher was growing pudgy — the importance of a good, healthy diet. The very next day, Christopher’s mother came to Mr. Carroll, bringing young Christopher with her — and the four boxes of doughnuts he had been eating. Mr. Carroll decided to teach the boy a lesson. He said, “Christopher, you sit down here. You are going to eat every one of those doughnuts before you get on the ice. And you’re not moving from here until every one is gone.” After the boy had eaten the doughnuts, Mr. Carroll made him practice spins until finally young Christopher exited the ice and vomited.

Eleanor Powell and the black dancer Bill Robinson, aka Mr. Bojangles, once performed at a private party put on by rich people. When the performance was over, Ms. Powell told the butler that she would like a glass of water — but only if Mr. Bojangles were also offered a glass of water. The butler brought them two glasses of water, and Mr. Bojangles broke his glass after drinking the water, and offered to pay for the glass. He told Ms. Powell later that he had broken the glass because he knew that no one would use the glass after he had used it.

As a young child growing up in Ufa, the great dancer Rudolph Nureyev was frequently hungry. When he started kindergarten, he was always late to class each morning, and his teacher asked him why. Young Rudi explained that he had to eat at home. His teacher then reminded him that he could eat at school. What young Rudi didn’t explain was that now he had a chance to eat twice in the morning, he was not going to miss it — especially since he could not be sure that there would food at home in the evening. (One day in class, he actually fainted from hunger.)

In Calcutta, the Missionaries of Charity feed several thousand people every day. However, one day there was no food to feed them. A Sister told Mother Teresa, “We have nothing left. We do not have food for so many people.” However, at 9 a.m. a truck loaded with bread arrived. At the city schools, children are given a slice of bread. That day, the city schools were closed for some reason, and the bread that would have given to the children was instead given to the Missionaries of Charity. All of the hungry people were able to eat bread until they were satisfied.

The Dalai Lama can be very open. Once, he toured Gethsemani Monastery in Kentucky. The monastery made its own cheeses and fruitcakes, and the Dalai Lama was offered some cheese. Later, he joked, “I was presented with a piece of the homemade cheese, which was very good, but really I wanted some cake! It was so unfortunate — really I was hoping someone would offer me some cake, but no one did!” The Dalai Lama was able to be happy without fruitcake, and some of his happiness came from being able to laugh at his desire for fruitcake.

While opera singer Mary Garden was sailing on the Alfonso XIII, she walked by — and smelled — the ship’s kitchen, and she resolved never to eat anything that came out of that kitchen. Fortunately, she had some baskets of fruit that friends had given her as going-away gifts, and she lived off those. Whenever there was stormy weather, the fruit would tumble out of the baskets and bounce around the room. Ms. Garden amused herself by watching to see which fruit made it around the room first — it was always the pineapple.

During World War II, some Greek singers, including the very young Maria Callas (who was chaperoned by her mother), were “asked” to sing before some music-loving Italian soldiers in Salonika. The series of concerts was successful, and afterward the singers were asked if they wanted to be paid in food or money. Good food was in short supply because of the war, so all the singers replied, “Food!” They came home well stocked in cheeses, hams, sausages, evaporated milk, and other good things.

Anton Rubinstein once promised the orchestra he would invite them to supper if his new opera would be a success; unfortunately, at the opera’s premiere, the audience made clear their dislike of it. Disgusted, Rubinstein went home and went to bed, but he was aroused later by a knocking at his door. He opened the door, only to see several members of the orchestra, who explained, “You invited us to supper if the opera was a success; we liked it very much.”

At age 18, British comic actress Su Pollard was in a restaurant when a man left, leaving behind an untouched pork chop. Because she was hungry, she took the pork chop and ate it — and was both surprised and embarrassed when the man returned after having deposited coins in a parking meter. The man asked a server, “Where’s my dinner?” — and Ms. Pollard disappeared into the ladies restroom.

According to Mishna Sahedrin 4:5, “Whoever saves one life, it is as if they saved the entire world.” Commenting on this passage, Rabbi Irwin Kula said, “In light of this talmudic statement, we must try to figure out what we must do to fashion a world in which each person is treated as if he or she has infinite value. Indeed, what does it mean to say that every human being is infinitely valuable when people die for lack of a dollar’s worth of food?”

In a 1970s TV commercial, tough guy actor George Raft and 300 other actors playing prisoners sit down to eat in a prison. Mr. Raft is disgusted by the food, so he grabs his tin cup and starts banging on the table and begins shouting, quickly joined by the 300 other prisoners, “Al-ka Selt-zer, Al-ka Selt-zer, Al-ka Selt-zer.”

Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller can be very considerate. Once, her mother needed to bring cookies to work the next day, but she had too much to do to bake them. When she woke up, she discovered that Shannon had baked the cookies for her.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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One Response to David Bruce: Food Anecdotes

  1. tref says:

    Re-posted on twitter @trefology

    Liked by 1 person

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