Gulf Wars: The View from the Kitchen

Lady Alvira reminds us that an army runs on its stomach in this inspiring report from Calontir's kitchen at the recent Gulf Wars XIII. Alvira writes:


I have recived a gentle reminder from Col. Jenna that I need to share my view of the war. Having the extra day to set up the kitchen was a dream! Duncan and Malici (sp?) even figured out how to make a lean-to out of the wall, and we had plenty of room without taking up space inside the pavilion.

An extra, unused wall was the cover for the tables. Ester had great joy in making it look like various beasts at the end of each day! Using the extra table and laying out the supplies really made it much easier to know when we were getting low on supplies.

I will be forever grateful to Magnus for letting me know at Coronation how odd the battle schedule would be. The decision to feed the Calon host three meals a day was indeed right. Every morning, before marching to the field to guard the health of the army, Ester would assist in the laying out of the fighter biscuits, Little Debbies, and jerky.

Immediately after the army marched off, a team of volunteers descended upon the living room to sweep, collect trash, and safely relocate mugs. I followed along with my spray bottle of "fresh scent" and made the pillows and rugs ready for tired calontiri to rest upon their return.

Soon there after, Charles and Maggie would appear, eager, smiling, and such a joy to be around. Charles, our "soup chef" would ready the water for soup, drinking, and washing up. Maggie, myself, and a revolving group would spread the pbj's, refill the Little Debbie bowl, replenish the jerky and the pickles, and make ready for later prep.

Being able to respond to the call from the angels of the water bearers for food when, yet again, the plans changed, by sending pbj, and on one occasion ham wraps, was wonderful!

Each day I had to send Charles and Maggie back to their tent to rest, such was their eagerness to be ready for the return of "our boys and girls".

HL Rebecka left our littlest waterbearer to tend to our needs. So good of a job did he do that many a trip was made to the porta-johns while waiting for the return. This was the first war that I did not have a day where I forgot to hydrate myself while in preparation for feeding the army. Mark my words, great will he be. It will someday be my honor to say I was there when he was young, he sang to me, and I did sup from the cup he offered.

As the heat of the day wore on I would have a chance to curl upon the pillows at the feet of the thrones, cradling the magic communicator by which Ester and Rebecka made sure of our readiness to welcome the army home.

All but one day, I awoke in plenty of time to call for help and complete the wraps of ham and herbed cheese. Thankfully, on that day TRM choose to elevate deserving fighters upon the field, and the food was ready just as our faithful scout ran to the courtyard with the news that the army approached. As the armor was unloaded, many hands took up the trays of food and the cups of soup and water. I would be allowed a pass through the ranks before my Jewish Mother would notice and loudly order me to my chair.

As I sat smiling, suddenly those that know me well would appear to tell me of the great deeds done that day, painting a picture for me, as they knew I long for the days when I lifted a jug and was there to see for myself. Many a Royal Guest did we have. True to the hospitality of Calontir, they were offered soup, sandwiches, and jerky. And they all wondered at the wisdom of the soup kitchen.

I counted no less than 20 who came to me to ask about the soup kitchen and how they could do such a thing. With great pride I told of Finola and Jenna and of the generosity of our kingdom. I pointed all to the web page where Col. Jenna's sage advice does reside.

Friday we were treated to a wondrous soup brought by HL Rosalyn. And that evening at court all were made happy by the consuming of food not needed for the next day.

Saturday afternoon a wondrous thing did occur. Richard and Calin, knowing I did not wish to store food in the trailer until Pennsic, set to auction the one jar of homemade jelly and the 10 bags of dried apples left.

It was if I was witnessing the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Suddenly a coif, an oak barrel, a shaft of fiberglass, chainmail earrings, leather gloves, a bow, a box, gauntlets, a boss, and so many other things that I've forgotten them, appeared. HE Duncan had to take over the auction, so overwhelmed was Richard.

When it had ended $550 in cash and $235 in checks were raised. I have a confession to make here. For years I have lived under the assumption that the difficulty in donating to the soup kitchen still existed. For when I was first blessed with assisting Jenna, the thought was that the SK could not be given funds donated though the kingdom. I was wrong. There is indeed a fund for the soup kitchen and now it will have the $550 in it as seed money for Pennsic. The checks, being made to Jenna, will be mailed to her.

Those who prepare to cook for the war know of the cost. We do not begrudge a cent spent. But think carefully upon it please. Jenna, Finola and their family have born the majority of this burden for 12 years. They would never ask for repayment themselves. But ponder what it is to feed us.

The wondrous jerky you enjoy at war, we who have started to take some of this burden, were surprised to find that the average cost of one of the bags of jerky is $100. Two bags are placed out a breakfast and two at the return of the army, each day, more at Pennsic. The cups you drink from, we used 1,000 at gulf wars. The bread you eat, 4 loaves per day at Pennsic. The peanut butter, a family size per day.

By hard work and determination, Lady Cailin has found dried soup for $40 a case. It is wonderful, all natural, no MSG, and 2 cases will serve us the whole year, even if there is a disaster at Lillies. The egg noodles are but a small amount and my joy to donate.

The wondrous jelly we now eat is donated by Lady Caillin. 8 quart jars were used at gulf. I am certain that she would welcome donations of grapes, sugar, jars, rings and lids.

If you do not have the ability to dry jerky yourself, there are those of us happy to do so for you and in your name.

If you have an idea for a fund raiser please let us know. Driving home, tired, overwhelmed by the generosity of the people attending gulf, Cailin and I came up with a new item for the Kris Kinder table. We will be selling "war in a bag": a couple of pieces of jerky, a small container of soup mix, a small container of the herbed cheese, a small container of homemade jelly, a chocolate chip cookie, and the recipes.

Is there interest in this before Pennsic? Would it ease the longing of those who can not attend to sell these at war manuvers?

It is my new quest to insure Finola and Jenna:

  1. Know what they have done and feel the love they have generated. I look at the waterbearers and see Finola in their faces, I hand over a cup of soup and think this has passed down through my hand from them. I feel a part of the army because of their work. Many factors contribute to Calontir being what we are, but none could argue that the gathering after the battle under the purple pavilion, sharing food and stories, has in large part shaped us.
  2. Have a lighter burden. They are our inspiration, and they will do much more, but it is up to those of us who aspire to be as they are to lighten their way.
  3. Lastly, that we now and the generations to come know of what they started, how hard they worked and how much a part of our dream they are.

Calontir may bleed purple, but it is chicken soup that flows through our veins!