Thirty-five years ago the Arabs started coming to America to buy
Thoroughbred racehorses, and everyone in the game was in a frenzy to
latch on to a "Mohammed" or a "Khalid" or some son of the desert.
Dogwood Farm—then in Georgia—thought we had rung the bell when we were
introduced to Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abudlaziz Al Saud. Prince
Faisal was in Columbus, Ga., at Fort Benning studying to become the next
Minister of Defense of Saudi Arabia; an office held by his father.
was a bona fide prince of that oil-rich country, and a guy who
reportedly adored racehorses and the life that went with them.
Naturally, we were dying to show him around.
Not surprisingly, he
had a sizeable entourage—lawyers, bodyguards, court jesters...and the
lovely Princess Asiya. One of his Georgia staff suggested a visit, and
we agreed upon a day. We would tour the barns, show the horses in which
shares were available (of course!), and then repair to our guest house
for what needed to be a very high-class lunch.
My wife, Anne,
researched the cuisine of Saudi Arabia and gathered that there really
were no dietary restrictions. Therefore, we would use this occasion to
introduce a fine, highly-prized Kentucky ham given us earlier, along
with other supporting culinary offerings associated with the
Thoroughbred world and sporting life.
The day arrived. Prince
Faisal and his group came rolling through the Dogwood gate in a huge
motor home, emblazoned with the crest of Saudi Arabia. We hosts were
assembled at the race track poised at sort of a quasi-attention, ready
to ooze charm.
The visitors filed off the motor coach, introductions were made, and the program began.
Faisal at the time was a chubby, little fellow, rather puzzlingly clad
in a beige jump suit, which also sported the Saudi crest. He was highly
effervescent, responsive; and truly loved seeing several sets of Dogwood
horses. After a most satisfactory and promising morning, we went to the
guest house for lunch, where there would be just the right touches one
would want to solidify the visit of Arab royalty.
The menu consisted of the aforementioned ham, a nice salad, and an old favorite—Kentucky Burgoo.
first in the buffet line was an Atlanta attorney. He looked worriedly
at the offerings, and then cleverly sought to save the day by
exclaiming, "Oh, Anne, I see you are serving corned beef. How nice!"
Anne briskly straightened him out, "No, no! That's a Kentucky ham!"
which point, a pall fell over the group. Faisal muttered desultorily,
"Oh, I am afraid we cannot eat any type of pork. But there are so many
other nice dishes." Like hell there were! The salad was heavily laden
with bacon bits. And the burgoo could not have existed without the pig's
contribution. The meal—and the day—were rapidly headed downhill, due to
the menu's strong reliance on the hog.
While we labored gamely
through several conversational topics, Anne had rushed into the kitchen
and was preparing some cheese biscuits. After what seemed an eternity,
she zoomed back into the dining room with an earthenware dish filled
with the piping hot (I mean steaming!) cheese biscuits. She offered
these first to Princess Asiya.
It bears noting that the Princess
was a staggeringly buxom young woman, and was wearing that day a blouse
that amply demonstrated her décolletage.
Just as Anne proffered
the earthenware dish, inexplicably it broke in half, and several of the
hot cheese biscuits fell into the cavity housing the royal Arabian
What else could go wrong?
At that point, the
situation was so bad, it was almost good. We all laughed a great deal.
In fact, when the royal motor coach departed through the Dogwood gates
an hour later, the prince good-naturedly bid us goodbye on the vehicle's
public address system, "Anne...next...time...give...me...CORNED BEEF!"
Did Prince Faisal buy any shares in our horses? No.