I Had Dinner with the Masons
I spent some time this summer in the bohemian, preppy, middle-class playground that is Cape Cod. Apart from the obvious distractions of swimming, eating shellfish and wandering aimlessly past galleries filled with dubious watercolours painted by milionaires in their downtime, I also got to eat out in some of the Cape's famed restaurants.
Now, this could be a blog reviewing the new types of fusion sushi the bored summertime chefs were coming up with to stave off the tedium of feeding people who are so rich they haven't felt hunger pangs in three decades. One such creation I ate was a hot and cold lump of rice and fish called a "hand grenade". And while everyone loves food that makes you think of dismembered limbs, I actually have a more interesting gastronomic proposition.
On the last Wednesday of each month, the Adams Masonic Lodge in Wellfleet opens its doors to the public and puts together a rather strange set menu, served canteen style as part of some kind of Masonic outreach scheme.
We arrived for dinner at about 5.30PM. The combination of lots of sea air and the local tradition of eating dinner before most people in the UK are even thinking about downing their first pint meant that the place was already full of happy diners.
We were served by a severely fat bearded man who looked more like the bears (gays, not animals) I had seen in Provincetown than a secret ruler of the world. He pointed us towards the menu on the wall and asked us to choose our dinner.
The choices are all basically along the same theme. Everyone's plate looked the same, with the only discernible difference being what you chose to stuff your small bread roll with. Seeing as we were in the shellfish capital of America, I went with the one thing on the menu that I knew had definitely come out of the sea: the lobster roll.
The Masons don't fuck around when it comes to soda. In fact, considering the room was full of men who looked like they were determined to spend their dotage rebelling against their gastric bands, the sheer volume of calories on this table was frightening.
The lodge had an open kitchen facing the dining room, which I guess helped make the Masons feel closer to their customers (i.e. as close as you can feel to a human being when your blood is cold and you put your "man suit" on before your dressing gown in the mornings). More beardy, balding men staffed the various parts of the kitchen. Note the "Real men wear aprons" T-shirts they were sporting. They're such jokers, Masons.
Scattered around the room were pictures of the Masons in their ceromonial garb. I was never quite sure if I was looking at photographs of demonic, paedophile overlords or a Bee Gees fan forum meet.
At this point, the first course arrived: a kale and Portuguese sausage soup. It was a thin broth mixed with fresh vegetables and some small pieces of spicy sausage. It tasted like ass and looked like the kind of thing people force themselves to eat while constantly keeping in mind the end-goal of living for eternity.
This chart on the wall next to me seemed like it would explain how the whole Masonic thing worked, but actually probably requires years of apron wearing to understand.
The courses were coming thick and fast at this point and, as soon as I had finished my soup, this incredible plate of beige carbs arrived. The pasta salad and coleslaw were a pretty standard "bought by the pound" affair. At this point, it's probably worth explaining what a lobster roll actually is. It's kind of a posh version of the "seafood salad" you get everywhere else, married with a lettuce leaf and then stuck in a sweet hot dog bun. The corn was overcooked, which was a shame.
In what turned out to be a bit of an Eyes Wide Shut moment, I decided to try to dodge my food coma by wandering around the rest of the building. Nothing, though, could quite prepare me for what was in the room above where we had been eating.
A full-blown, suburban Masonic temple!
And this weird book, which I was too scared to open in case I saw my name in it.
Some chairs for the king lizards to sit in (and a handily-placed fire extinguisher to put out burning babies).
It was while I was taking this slightly blurry, crappy photo of the large Masonic egg timer that I heard voices coming up the stairs to the temple. I was actually kinda freaked out. Not that I thought I'd be locked up in a dungeon or anything, but I still didn't want to get caught taking photos of all the secret little things in the temple, so I pocketed my camera and walked back down the stairs, muttering something about thinking the toilets were this way.
When I returned to my seat, I was sweating profusely. I wasn't sure if it was the paranoia or the fact that the humidity in the room must have been close to 100 percent, due to the constantly boiling pots of corn. If you're wondering, as ice-cream goes, this was pretty bad. A scoop of soft, cold stuff with a bit of Hershey's syrup squirted on top. Really, I just wanted a stiff drink at this point.
Follow Al on Twitter: @pooplouder
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