Forlorn War Veterans and Restaurant Etiquette

After finishing the book All Quiet on the Western Front, only then did I realize that soldiers who survived the war truly were scarred for life. Unlike other stories of the war, All Quiet really hits you with the reality and horrors of the front line, life in the trenches, and watching everyone around you drop like flies. In the middle of the novel, the protagonist, Paul, goes home for a seventeen-day leave. As he encounters people and memories from his life before the war, he became aware of the fact that no one back home really understood what having the life of a soldier really meant. Despite the enticement of glory and the insistent persuasion of Paul’s schoolmaster, willingly fighting for the war didn’t entitle any of the things people promised. There was no glory, only gore. There was neither victory nor spirit, only misery and death. Back at home, Paul’s father wanted him to keep his uniform on so he can be shown off to his father’s friends. What Paul’s father didn’t understand was that the war was brutal and cruel. He did not realize that his son was now a different person, hardened by the barbarity of fighting and numbed by the deaths of his comrades. As a result, being surrounded again with civilians of the likes of his father, Paul was faced with the challenge of how to  fit in again and interact with others on a different level than his fellow soldiers out in the front (line).

As with any environment, people have to be able to adapt to their surroundings and act properly (according to the standards of society). That is where etiquette comes in. Like Paul’s rehabilitation as a war veteran to a member of society, there are unspoken rules that have to be abided by in restaurants. Theoretically, let’s say we have Bill, a man who has never interacted much with people besides his family and has never stepped foot inside a restaurant. Bill will not realize that his open-mouthed chewing and boisterous laugh does not belong in such a public place. As Bill is surveying his menu, how will he properly flag down a waiter to put down his order? Will he wave his hand in the air like an overly-eager student or stare down a waiter and motion with his index finger to come to his table? After Bill’s plate of spaghetti arrives, how will he choose to eat it? With chopsticks or a fork? Spoon or no spoon? To twirl or not to twirl? As Bill eats, he is greeted by a waiter who checks up on how he is doing. “Is everything okay, sir?”, the waiter asks. Bill doesn’t realize that the waiter isn’t referring to his life, but merely his food. Oblivious to the shallowness of the question, Bill pats the seat next to him and tells the waiter to sit down. With a mouthful of pasta, Bill begins to tell the uncomfortable-looking waiter the problems he is having with his colon and how he has trouble sleeping at night because of his cat’s incessant snoring. After a while, Bill asks what’s the matter with the waiter. “Are you alright there, pal?” Finally, Bill receives the check for his meal. Now, how shall he go about paying the fourteen dollars and seventy-eight cents when he only has a twenty-dollar bill in his pocket? Bill shrugs and tears off a fifth of his twenty-dollar bill and inserts it into the black book.

Clearly, this demonstration with “Bill” was exaggerated, but it does help to clearly show the little things that people have to deal with as they decide on what proper etiquette is and what is not. It ties in with the behavioral issues some shell-shocked war veterans have with day-to-day interactions most people don’t even bother to think about. We all have our little eccentricities and confusions about what society thinks is best and what is unacceptable. What’s your quirk?

MetriDee

I’d Die For You

Nah, I’m just kidding. Many people aren’t serious when they say those words, but to the soldiers, these words aren’t thrown around lightly. Soldiers do everything together; during their time they serve in the army, they’ve all seen their comrades through everything. Through good times and hardships, through times where they just wanted to give everything up, and through times of complete horror. They’ve seen it all. They’ve also seen their strengths, their weaknesses, their good and their bad qualities. They know each other inside out, better than married couples do. I wasn’t really aware of how close they were until I read a war novel in English class called All Quiet on the Western Front. Have any chickeneers read this book before? If so, I’d like your thoughts about this book! I just find it so amazing how strong of a bond they have, that it makes the friendships we make in our lives completely incomparable.

How many friends do you really have? You might say you have a lot, but think again. I don’t mean your facebook friends, those people you added but don’t really know, but true friends. Friends that would stick by you when things get tough, or support you when others don’t. Friends that you consider family, because you can say anything and everything to them and know that they’ll listen. Friends that care. Friends that love you for you, not for someone you pretend to be. How many real friends do you have? To be honest, I’d say I’ve only had 3 or 4 real friends in my entire life. And even so, I’d say I don’t know that much about my real friends; not as much as the soldiers. The soldiers are all one big family. Not only is it a huge amount of people, but they know the little things about each other that makes them, them. Their bond is like no other; it’s truly unexplainable. You might say that you have a friend who truly loves you for who you are, and will go through everything that you will go through- but is it one who will die for you? Is it one who will go through your hardships with you, sacrifice themselves for you?

Soldiers show true friendship. They’d do anything to be together, to make sure the other person doesn’t feel lonely. “We stick together; you see.” In All Quiet, Paul fakes a fever in order to leave the train with Albert, although he’s in good health. He decides to stand by him, even though he doesn’t need to. This type of sacrifice warms my heart, because although they’re not related, although they treat each other like family. The stronger bond is shown between Kat and Paul. When Kat was injured in chapter eleven, Paul carried him all the way to the dressing station while shells were raining down on them. He didn’t have to – he could’ve left him there, yet he used his own energy and painstakingly carried him to safety. It’s depressing, because once they reached the station, Kat dies because of a splinter in his head.

3811782-us-army-soldier-carrying-wounded-friend

“I am no longer a shuddering speck of existence, alone in the darkness;-I belong to them and they to me; we all share the same fear and the same life; we are nearer than lovers, in a simple, a harder way; I could bury my face in them, in these voices, these voices that have saved me and will stand by me.” (All Quiet on the Western Front, page 212) I find this quote really empowering. It shows how close to each other they really are, although they were strangers in different places in the world and had different life situations just a couple years ago. I’d have to admit, I’m envious of this type of friendship. One friendship like this is hard to achieve these days; it just can’t be done.

So there it is guys… what true friendship is. Yes, there is a difference between friends that you hang out in school, and friends (more like a second family) that you went to war with. But friends are friends, so be nice to them and don’t force them to go to war in order to make you guys feel closer. (Not that you guys would do that… right guys? 😀 Don’t be like Kantorek!)

-By Raining Chocolate, Cinnamon Roll, and MetriDee

Food goes well with anything

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“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Familiar with this quote?

This is a great life lesson that teaches you about never giving up when you come across a boulder, don’t just give up, use your right side of your brains to think up of an idea. But to me, It’s telling me not to leave food to waste.

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Ever happen to you when you’re reading a book and parts of the book just make you think of food?

As I was reading All Quiet in the Western Front by  Erich Maria Remarque, I felt the pain and suffering seeping into my heart as the tragic stories were absorbed into my mind…

but at the same time, all I could think about was food.

Around the beginning of the book, the narrator talks about the front of the battle field and he refers to it as a “mysterious whirlpool…sucking me slowly, irresistibly, inescapably, into itself.” The deep representation of the front that the narrator describes as the whirlpool…just makes me think of delicious food.

steak

Just look at that.

The smell of  steak sucking me…slowly…irresistibly…making me drool like a dog looking at a big juicy bone.I’m sure that has happened to you before, not just with steak but with all kinds of food.

In another part of the book, there was a scene where the narrator describes:

“An uncertain red glow spreads along the skyline from one end to the other. It is the perpetual movement, punctuated with the bursts of flame…”

As a student in English class, I can imagine the strip of sky lined with red, and the horizon of the land sparking with flames here and there. The artistic view so dramatic yet to the soldiers, it would cause their hearts to beat faster, body pumping with adrenaline, mind racing at the thought of actually being at that spot in minutes.

But as I imagined that, I saw myself at a K-BBQ restaurant.

kbbq with fire

In a crowded restaurant where everyone is almost back to back, you have to yell at your neighbor because of the noise. The smoke of the fire fill the room with delicious smell, and the sound of the meat sizzling makes you just more impatient. Occasionally, the flame rises above the grill and wave hello, which just makes your heart leap with excitement.

Another scene was when Paul (the main character) returns home for a break is nagged by his father about being in the front. Paul said that “he does not know that a man cannot talk of such things…it is too dangerous to put these things into words.”

That made me remember the many times I took a bite into the food and when someone asked me how it tasted, I just give them the look that says “You know I can’t describe it, so don’t even ask.”

Or I just let out a long groan of happiness. 🙂

You know,

sometimes, I feel like I might have that moment where when I take a bite, fireworks explode around me. Sparks of happiness surrounding me, tickling me with joy, as every bite makes me lust for more.

remy & fireworks 2

These scenes remind me of all the good times I had with food, and I sit tight with eagerness, wondering as I get deeper into the novel, what other stories might my memories tell me of my life with food.

Has this ever happened to you?

Raining Chocolate

Trust: How We Put the Fate of Our Well-Being Into the Hands of Others

By MetriDee

Have you ever wondered about what goes on behind the swinging double doors of restaurant kitchens? We trust a whole staff of cooks and chefs to prepare our meals for us safely and deliciously. There have been stories of waiters taking turns spitting into a plate of pasta that would be served to a rude customer. Well, it was the same idea when many foolhardy young men were terribly misinformed about the glories and successes of fighting in World War I. In the novel All Quiet On the Western Front, the main protagonist Paul recalls enlisting in the war with many of his friends as a result of their fiercely patriotic schoolmaster’s unrelenting pressure. The trust and faith placed in the hands of their teacher, Kantorek, later turned into disgust and hatred as they were exposed to the horrors of the war. One of the more hesitant of the group was first to die in battle, his death being quite horrible. Kantorek writes to the boys, calling them the “Iron Youth” and glorifying their bravery for fighting for their country. Here, it is evident that Kantorek is oblivious to the reality of the situation.

In a restaurant, a lot of things happen when you order your food; the kitchen staff prepares your meal, the bartender makes your drink, and finally your server delivers the food right to your table. Rude customers who snap/tap/whistle impatiently will be deliberately ignored for an additional ten minutes by the server. What most diners forget to remember is that when a restaurant is busy, there are other customers and issues that are being dealt with as well. Many waiters who have contributed to these “What-You-Don’t-Know” articles want to accommodate your needs as soon as needed, but are simply unable to due to the demand of multiple parties and guests

In most war-based novels of the World War I era, only the most optimistic and glorious parts of the war are recalled and remembered. The horrendously gory scenes of the aftermath of battles were, figuratively speaking, swept under the heavy cover of the rug away from the upturned noses of the extremely patriotic. Consequently, the masses of young men who were convinced to join the battle against the enemy were strolling blindly to what could likely be their own death. Most people never truly knew the ugly truth behind warfare and only had surface-level knowledge of what was really happening. Some of their thoughts probably consisted of remarks like “War! Of course people die in it!” or “Those brave men out there are fighting for our country! If you don’t, you will be considered a coward who doesn’t love his country.” What these people didn’t realize was that there was way more people being sent off to war than veterans who actually came back. Unlike other war-based novels, All Quiet On the Western Front depicted the war in a more truthful manner, including the blood, sweat, and tears that went into the pride and patriotism of serving their country for “the greater good”.