Photo Credit: Flickr user Brett Woodvine
When you’re deployed for the holidays it doesn’t exactly make you feel festive. Despite the Christmas tree we drew on our office door and the lights strung around the water pipes, it wasn’t exactly homey. As soon as I found out we would be in port for Christmas week I started making plans. See, the Navy is very small and despite being halfway around the world from family, I had a friend deployed to Bahrain, the very place we were going.
After a few emails back and forth, a grocery-shopping list was sent, and I had a small group of friends coming with me to have a normal dinner. I couldn’t wait to be able to walk around with no shoes on, sit on a couch, and enjoy being off the boat for a couple hours. Do you know how hard it is to find pork bacon in Bahrain? My friend still managed to find it and I couldn’t wait to get cooking.
My friend, the three Sailors I brought with me, and I settled in quickly. Shoes kicked off, lounging all over the furniture, and enjoying any and every Christmas movie we could get our hands on. The house started smelling amazing as I fried up bacon with garlic for carbonara. Pasta was boiling in stages because his pots were a bit small for the amount of people I was trying to feed. Everything was going as planned. Then I had to make the sauce.
Heavy cream…um…wait. What was wrong with the heavy cream!?
Apparently there is a difference between heavy cream and thick cream when you’re in Bahrain. One is liquid, milk-like. The other is a solid, whipped cream consistency. I needed the liquid and got the solid. And nowhere nearby was I going to be able to find more heavy cream. We tried. Believe me we tried. After doing everything I could to salvage a meal that I have cooked a hundred times before, I gave up. I was near tears at the ruined Christmas dinner. I have never screwed up carbonara before.
Lucky for me, Christmas isn’t about the meal. My friends were happy to dig into the bacon as we flipped through take-out menus. We laughed and made The Christmas Story references while we ordered enough sushi to feed a small army. All of us ended up in a food coma with no desire to venture back to the ship at the end of the night.
I don’t know how the rest of my merry band of misfits look back on last Christmas, but it’s going to go down as one for the record books for me; a priceless deployment memory that I’ll be telling my family about every year as I prepare the holiday dinner. Remember that one time….