What's Cooking in Region 1 - November 2006
by Marghretta McBean
Let's hear it for Little Rhody!!! Two years ago when then Rhode Island Mensa president Tom Padwa broached the idea of hosting a regional or national event, he set about a mini revolution. His group had never held an RG, hosted a LDW, let alone an AG, yet he felt that the time had come to get its feet wet. I suggested that hosting an AMC (American Mensa Committee) board meeting would be a good first step.
Well, Rhode Island Mensa more than outdid itself! The meeting venue was a hotel staffed by Johnson & Wales, the international culinary and hotel management school. Superb food, wonderful accommodations, and most importantly, fantastic local group support. As we on the AMC move around the country to hold our meetings, many times we wonder "why?" Few local members attend the board meeting, and the opportunities to meet them outside of the meeting are often limited. RIM set up a cozy hospitality room that encouraged socialising and had a magnificent Saturday night dinner where each table had a mixture of locals and visitors. I was pleased to present Tom with a Regional Service Award and pin for his more than 33 years of involvement with all things Mensa. AMC members heaped praise on the RIM team's efforts; Pam Donahoo, Mensa's Executive Director, summed it up: "The Rhode Island meeting ranks up there with my favorite AMC meeting venue. The hotel was great to deal with; the food good. And the company of the local group was outstanding!!!" Kudos to Little Rhody!!!
I just observed an anniversary: thirty years ago I found out that I was considered to have above average intelligence. Coming across a letter dated 1 November 1976 from the American Mensa Selection Agency which had informed me that the unsupervised test I had recently submitted appeared to indicate that my intelligence quotient was higher than 98% of the population. What a shock that was to me! While I had usually been the "smartest" in school, it had never occurred to me to think of myself as unusually bright. When I took the supervised test a few weeks later, the resulting letter was even more astounding: I was considered brighter than 99% of the population. I know many Mensans who had similar surprises: we did not think we were in any way special, and if we were different from our peers, it probably was not in a positive or socially acceptable way.
I write this because the Mensa test forced me to look at my life, in particular my business and personal relationships in a light that I had never before imagined. We Mensans are all highly gifted; let us use our gifts to enrich not only our lives, but the lives of those around us.
Erratum: a beady eyed reader with a offbeat sense of humour caught the phrase "a Muslim Chaplin" in my last column and thought it was a Freudian slip: equating a Muslim cleric with one of the characters played by Charlie Chaplin. I did not mean that at all: the correct wording would have been "a Muslim chaplain". That's what happens when a column is written at 2:00 a.m.
Sbiten, the traditional beverage of wintertime Russia, is a drink that has been around since the fourteenth century. Traditionally, it was served on Russian street corners from a heated copper samovar by a worker called a sbitenshchik. The word sbiten comes from the verb sbit: to beat or pound. Herbs and spices were ground in a mortar, then mixed with honey. The mixture was allowed to ferment for a short period, and then mixed with water to make a slightly alcoholic drink. This version is non-alcoholic, but can easily be made "fortified".
- Combine all ingredients in a large non-reactive pot and bring to a slow boil over medium heat.
- Whisk continuously to insure honey is well mixed.
- Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature.
- Strain liquid through cheesecloth into an airtight container for storage and refrigerate until ready to bottle. This makes a lovely holiday gift!
- To serve, gently heat until almost simmering. While it can be drunk out of a mug, the Russians pour it into a glass. Put a metal spoon (for heat transferral) in the glass before pouring to avoid shattering the glass. A shot of vodka or brandy can be added as well.