Since this is article 3 in a series of I am really not sure how many, about the marriage of son #1 to DIL #1, and since most things in life are about food for me, I decided —why not write about the caterer?
People remember highlights of important times in their lives — what they wore, who their close friends were at the time, but for me, it is all about what I ate. Well, that isn’t always true. I do remember what I wore to my siddur party in first grade. It was a red dress, I had matching red ribbons in my hair, and I got to sing the “aleph bet” song to a room full of classmates and parents. It was a shining moment for me. Fast forward to sixth grade, when the Yavneh choir would perform at the Bergen Mall — I had a solo. The song, “Bilvavi Mishkan.” My rendition has been performed at many a Friday night dinner, to the amusement of my boys. My outfit was equally memorable, because my mother actually found a white blouse and skirt that flattered my weeble-wobble frame. (For those of you who remember “weebles wobble but they don’t fall down…”) Another shining moment. Just like Whitney Houston.
And then my bat mitzvah — two dresses bought at Lesters in Brooklyn and an open house in my parents’ basement. Can you imagine — a party in your parents’ basement and not in a hall? Or synagogue? Or some other fancy venue? A party with no simcha dancers or motivators? No Mordechai Shapiro or Mordechai Ben David? Nope, but it was still perfect. The favors were giant lollypops with ribbons that said, “Banji’s Bat Mitzvah.” I received 17 pairs of earrings and my ears weren’t even pierced. But what I remember most was the very tall man with the big afro who emerged out of my parents’ garage and served the most delicious food. He was awesome, the display was awesome, and everyone left full and happy (except, of course, for the people who don’t eat anything, and they are just cranky all of the time).
Fast forward to my wedding, when I married husband #1 the first time (as opposed to the second time, which was two years ago — if you don’t know what I am talking about, there is a video out there in social media land of the blessed event), We found the perfect venue — Birchwood Manor. The perfect flowers, the perfect band, and there he was again — the very tall man, who still had the big afro, as the perfect caterer. And it was perfect, down to the dessert, which included unbelievable donuts. Though they weren’t served on a wall — they were on platters — but still perfect.
When it was time for my boys’ bar mitzvahs (we fast forwarded through the bris period because I didn’t care what we served. I was sleep deprived and ate between feedings and it didn’t matter what it was — stale bread, old Cheerios — you new moms know what I am talking about). Anyway, when the bar mitzvahs came rolling around we priced out a bunch of caterers — but in the end, there he was again, the very tall man with the big afro (though it was slightly tamed since it was no longer the 80s or 90s). And he did me proud for all three simchas. And the line that was repeated over and over again, “I cannot believe that you catered my bat mitzvah AND my wedding and now the boys’ bar mitzvahs!!” Honestly, that line was said more times than he or I care to mention — because how cool is that?
Yes, it gets cooler…
The wedding of son #1 took place in a hall that has its own caterer. Always delicious, but always the same. What about the very tall man with the afro? Ah yes, the aufruf. We priced out a bunch of very lovely local caterers, but I had to contact the very tall man with the (now salt and pepper) afro. And, of course, he came through for me. And it was perfect and delicious, with leftovers to take us through the holidays and feed the newlyweds for at least a month. (They don’t eat that much, so leftovers go a very long way.) But the best part was adding to our tag line, “I can’t believe you catered my bat mitzvah and my wedding and the boys’ bar mitzvahs and now son #1’s aufruf!!!!!”
I really hope he never retires, because our simchas won’t be the same without him…
Banji Ganchrow is currently on a plane with husband #1 and might have to take a break from wedding columns because he has given her so much new material…poor guy…. (And if you want to know who the caterer is, feel free to contact me!)