Home > Cuisine by Brian Schropp > A Critical Look at the Deep Northern Suburban Holiday Party and the Disaster that Followed

A Critical Look at the Deep Northern Suburban Holiday Party and the Disaster that Followed

December 29, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments
Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

I was already on my third “Holiday Strike” on the drive over to the party but I was allowed to come anyways. Probably what saved me from having to wait in the car (like last year) was actually writing for the Lankville paper and not just for my own food fanzine (which had a pretty good following by the way).

“Nothing, I mean NOTHING, is going to happen tonight. You are going to sample some food, write your notes and then sit in a corner and talk with NO ONE!”

I had made my father’s life hard recently (especially in lawyer’s fees alone) so I planned on following his instructions.

For readers not familiar with the Deep Northern Suburban Holiday Party, it’s a tradition that has been going on for over forty years at the “Double-Headed Moose Lodge” off of Garrett Rd. The story goes that the double-headed moose use to terrorize the community out of the woods surrounding the Deep Northern Suburbs around the holiday times. It wasn’t until this deformity/creature from Hell was killed (on a snowy Christmas morning) that the families could start enjoying this magical time without living in fear. So we celebrate every Christmas at the lodge which was actually built on the ground where the moose was killed.

The parking lot was filling up fast as we pulled in around 5PM. It was a cold, brisk Christmas evening with a light snow fall. As I jumped out of the car before it was fully parked I heard my Dad say, “Remember what I said son.” I looked back at his gaze from the rear view mirror. “No worries Pops, I got this.” I admit to a little swagger as I headed for the door.

The Lodge usually caters from a different place every year but folks still bring their own dishes– some to show off their cooking skills, others to appease the spirit of the moose so it won’t come back. I aggressively made my way past the people on the steps in hopes of getting a shot at Ms. Burgee’s meatballs. Her meatballs are always the hit of the party and go quick.

The huge room was a crowded affair with two huge crackling fireplaces on both sides. A platform was in the middle with a Big Band playing above the giant bust of the two-headed moose (the thing must of been the size of an elephant!!). There was a small dance area in front of the platform where men were swinging their ladies around to the tunes. The rest of the room was filled with folding table after folding table of sweet delicious food. I spotted the area where I believed the Burgee meatballs to be and pushed and prodded my way over.

The Double-Headed Moose Lodge.

The Double-Headed Moose Lodge.

I was just able to secure myself a paper plate when none other than my old nemesis Nathan Rowback came up to me with his cronies behind him. Nathan is an old “friend” from high school who likes to tell people he was the one who reintroduced the popularity of breakfast sandwiches and “suburban soul food” back to the area. He also claims to have published his food fanzine before mine but the truth is this dweeb (pardon my language) has been riding my coattail for years.

“Say Bri, whipped up any new reviews lately?” (Please refer to my Sylvia’s Waffle House Of Shame to get his “joke”). He chuckled so his cronies chuckled as well.

I glanced at the paper plate he was holding. “Hey Nathan looks like you just have pretzels on your plate. Is that all your food palette can register?” A good and witty comeback. Even his cronies “ooohhhed.”

He got into my face. “Want to make something of it?” Normally I wouldn’t mind going a round or two with him but the voice of my dad came into my head–“Nothing, I mean NOTHING is going to happen tonight!”

“Not right now. I have a PAPER to write for.” With that I slightly pushed him out of my way.

I was in luck to get the last two Burgee meatballs and they were fabulous. I try and tell Ms. Burgee she needs to open a meatball or a meatball sub shop but I am usually told to get off her lawn.

I proceeded to nab some of Ms. Clayton’s “Twice-Baked Tuna Helper” plus Mr. Waltman’s “Piggies in A Sleeping Bag” and knew I was sampling some of the best the neighborhood had to offer.

For the sake of the paper, I knew I had to try the big boys catering the event. So, brandishing a fresh paper plate and spork I went into the crowds at the main tables. I was able to grab some chicken, a dabble of mashed potatoes, and a few slices of honey baked ham. I found a quiet spot to taste my selection in peace. The chicken was very dry, the mashed potatoes cold and bland, the ham had a very foul off-putting taste.

I realized I never found out who was catering this debacle of processed food so I hammered my way back up to the tables and noticed the plastic containers over in a nearby corner. I shouldn’t of been surprised to find “Foodville” stamped on the cheap slimy vessels. Hank Cameron (the manager) has been the subject of a few of my articles and not for the good. It wasn’t until I noticed the dates on the containers that my heart sank and stomach turned a little. This food was just over a year old.

Hank Cameron (unflattering close-up file photo)

Hank Cameron (unflattering close-up file photo)

I was at a crossroads. I had to stay out of trouble yet people’s lives were at risk if they continued to eat this so called “food”. Taking a deep breath I made my way towards the stage. The attention of the entire lodge quickly turned towards me once the music stopped. A few band members tried to stop me but I was able to wiggle away from them and grab a microphone. “Ladies and gentlemen you need to stop eating the main courses brought by Foodville!! The food is old and will make you sick. Please please everyone put down your sporks!! Hank Cameron, manager of Foodville is poisoning you!!”

Chaos descended quicker than I thought. Screams and cries followed by mass amounts of vomit. The lodge became a free for all with the crowds pushing against each other either to get outside or to the bathrooms, the band members dropping their instruments and running off the stage even though they hadn’t had a bite to eat. People started to slip on the rivers of vomit flowing freely from all directions. Somebody pulled the fire alarm and the sprinklers rained down on the large masses and the lights started to blink.

I was still in daze on the stage looking and listening to the madness around me when I heard a horrific shout of “YOU!!!” coming from the right. Hank Cameron was making his way fast towards me, a soaking mess pushing people out of his way and slipping from the vomit. The chase was on. I was nimbly able to hop off the stage and onto the old expired food using the tables to cross the opposite direction quickly. Once clear on the other side I was able to blend into the crowds and get out of one of the exit doors. I ran between the chaos and cars outside until I found the family minivan. I climbed inside and slid down to the floor so no one could see me. I listened to the shouts, sirens, and helicopters for a long time.

So, once my family made it back to car I explained the situation in hopes of not getting beaten on the spot.

“The thing is Bri,” my Dad said as he grabbed my shoulder a bit too hard. “The food wasn’t a year old. It’s still 2014. New Years is next week.”

Well, my Dad’s lawyers say the food Hank Cameron brought was still expired by a few days. That just might be what gets me out this mess. I will keep you updated!!

Until next time folks keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas!!

Happy Eating,

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