Uphams Corner Main Street Fundraiser 2014 - Aesthetic, Tasty, Not-so-Tasty

The Uphams Corner Main Street fundraiser drew an enthusiastic crowd to enter the Strand Theatre's stage in lounge style - complete with a full bar table and tender and a banquet table of locally prepared food.  The silent auction items, even if you didn't bid, were great for imagining.  The appetizers were 'fake' food and that was disappointing.  However, congratulations to everyone who helped make this year's event a success.

By 6:30 a couple dozen people had arrived.  It was June 17, 2014 and the Uphams Corner Main Street (UCMS) fundraiser was underway.  Nicholas Chernoff, UCMS Board President, welcomed everyone.  "This," he said, "is the appetizer.  The main menu awaits you in the Strand's main theater.  And we haven't forgotten the drinks."  Nick was especially careful to emphasize that alcohol would be served.  Preparations were still underway but the doors would open soon.

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UCMS Fundraiser 2014 UCMS Fundraiser 2014

When Alda Marshall, Strand Theatre production manager, walked out of the Strand's main theater looking radiant and pleased, it was clear that preparations were going well.   As if it were a movie set, the stage had been converted into a lounge. Low-slung tables with chairs for those who preferred eating, small standing tables for the bar crowd and plenty of open space for groups to gather over their favorite conversation - all of this created a sense of intimacy, especially with the lights turned low.   

Fred Woodard's band, completing the stage set, added the overtones of jazz and encouraged imbibing, chatting and especially laughter.  

Let the Drinking & Eating Begin

By 7pm, many more attendees had arrived which is exactly what the event planners expected - a casual and fun affair. Rev. John guarded the banquet table until the appetizer guests began to migrate from the entry halls.  Provided by local area restaurants, the food consisted of coconut bread,  two types of rice, chicken with crunchy vegetables and a ziti dish. 

With the bar and banquet tables to the left, seating tables in front and the band to the right, that left one more leg of the stage set's rectangle.  Across multiple tables at the back of the stage were representations of the silent auction offerings - no small trivia items accepted.  How much were you willing to offer for the weekend car rental or the signed Red Sox baseball?  "A lot," the UCMS team hoped - to cap off a successful fundraiser.

Unlike other noteworthy, but more formal, fundraising events, Uphams Corner's encouraged participation at the fairly low entry fee of $30.  Not just for the wealthy, "Moving Forward Together III" invited everyone to attend - residents, businesses, City dignitaries and the serious "donor crowd."  That they succeeded was clear from the variety of people in attendance. 

Conversation covered the gamut.  The stress of working for a turnaround school.  What's happening with the Maxwell building?  Will the Art Commission really make a difference in Uphams Corner?  Printed media is being replaced by video.  NGO's in little known places promoting the creation of democracies.  What it's like to work for a consulting firm after getting your MBA.

UCMS Fundraiser 2014 UCMS Fundraiser 2014

Aesthetics, the Tasty and the Not-so-Tasty

That the event's aesthetics were high quality is without doubt.  That the "taste" of the locally prepared food was acceptable came through votes in action - full plates of food, fully eaten by the "starving" guests. 

Not all is perfect, however.  This writer rates the appetizers as poor.  Consisting of a "protein" plate of cubed cheese, cubed meat and olives and a "fresh fruit" plate of watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew and other soft fruits, both plates looked mouthwatering.

The cheese was OK, nothing special.  The olives were wonderful (what can you do to an olive?).

The processed cubes of poultry and ham
tasted the same and were clearly saline-injected and preserved with nitrites.   The consistency of the "meat" was a dead (meat is dead animals) giveaway.  Only after saline-injection can you get meat to be that soft and the red color?  Real meat is brown, not red.  Look at slices of roast beef.  Unless cooked rare, they are always brown.  Ham, hot dogs and other salty preserved foods?  Why are they red?  Because of the nitrites. 

The fresh fruit plate tasted a little off-color or we should say "off-flavor."  What appeared to be different fruits all tasted the same and they had the consistency of rubber.  "Something is wrong here."  A second, more formal review of the fruit plate retained the assessment.  What looked like watermelon and what "should" have tasted crunchy with bursts of juice flowing across the tongue and teeth was a controlled sweet rubbery experience.  "Aha!  The suger brine treatment - maybe with a preservative or two thrown in." 

Across the full spectrum of what a fundraiser is and can be, these comments may constitute a small point.  Still this feature of the fundraiser was disappointing, especially when schools, homes and businesses are being encouraged to eat healthier.  Perhaps, next year, the UCMS fundraising committee would consider replacing "fake" appetizer food with real food, also prepared by our local restaurants, thus bringing the event to an even more aesthetic "taste" of affairs.

More information on meat processing technology including brine-injection and the ever-present use of nitrites can be found in an article by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) -

Uphams Corner News

The UCMS fundraising committee excluded Uphams Corner News from the "Participants" page.  This is indeed odd as Uphams Corner News
Perhaps the leaders of our community should make a commitment to include EVERYONE!  Perhaps the leaders of our community should demonstrate model behavior. How about it Main Streets?

Click here to see over five pages of articles about UCMS by Uphams Corner News

UCMS Fundraiser 2014 UCMS Fundraiser 2014

UCMS Fundraiser 2014 UCMS Fundraiser 2014

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Posted: June 19, 2014    Nancy J Conrad