Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Breaking Out the "Company" China

My Pho
One Thanksgiving a good decade or more ago, my younger brother brought his then-fiance and now-wife to meet his extended family for the first time. This is an experience that, though they don't realize it until years later when they've had a chance to  compare notes and commiserate with their fellow family-by-marriage inlaws, is something akin to a gang initiation or high-school sorority hazing ritual, except that my family has no idea that there's anything painful or even out of the ordinary going on.

So, we were in my now-departed grandmother's house, and my now-sister-in-law Margaret wanted a glass of wine. My brother started to open the china cabinet to get her a wine-glass. "Oh, no, Jim," my grandmother declared, deeply shocked, as if he had begun to micturate on her rug. "That crystal is for company!" Poor Margaret had to make do sipping her wine from a clear plastic tumbler.

I couldn't help wondering something: if my grandmother's future granddaughter-in-law, whom she had never even met before, didn't rank as "company," well, then, who the heck would? Perhaps she was expecting a visit from the Secretary of State or perhaps a Nobel Prize laureate in the next day or two, and we just hadn't heard about it yet.

This whole Thanksgiving memory was sparked by the fact that none of the commenters on my recent review of Mì Xào, Mt. Pleasant's new Vietnamese take-out joint pointed out a slight issue with the photographs.

I clearly indicate in the review itself that, when I ate there at least, everything was served in take-out containers except the pho (a.k.a. London broil soup), which came in a plain white ceramic bowl. The photographs illustrating the review? Elegant blue and white china with ornate wood chopsticks, absolutely beautiful and (unless I managed to catch them on two bad days) nothing like what is actually served to patrons.

This is not at all a complaint, mind you. The food at Mì Xào is delicious and it doesn't need fancy china to improve it. I just found it amusing (and a reminder of why we do these review anonymously) that there's good china socked away somewhere in the back room, waiting for someone super important--like a newspaper photographer--to show up.

But, if you drop in for a bowl of pho and it comes out in a plain white bowl, don't be offended. You may not rank as "company", but I bet you'll still enjoy the meal.

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