What are the top 5 best meals you’ve ever had?
I’ve asked this question to pretty much everyone I know at sometime or another. For some reason I find the topic of ‘best meals’ very interesting. A meal is such a fabulous part of human interaction and day-to-day life. For all of history, people have always shared meals together. I truly enjoy sitting with friends or family, eating good food and having a solid conversation. Dinnertime is a beautiful thing and it doesn’t receive the attention and appreciation that it deserves. Usually, the best meals have some sort of story behind them. There is some other reason that a meal makes the top 5 besides the food. It’s really the story that I am after when I ask anyone about his or her Top 5 meals. So if you’re interested, here are some of my favorite meals and why they are so memorable.
Antipasto in Italy
When I was 16, my family took our first vacation to Europe. We started in Rome for 3 days before boarding a cruise ship and sailing to Greece, Malta, Spain and France. The trip was full of memories, but one of the best was our last night in Rome. We went to a small, family owned restaurant. I don’t remember what the place was called, but there couldn’t of been more than 5 tables in the whole place. We ordered the antipasto to share and separate dinners for everyone. This was no average antipasto, with a few olives and cheese on a platter. The waiter brought us bowls of different types of olives, melon with prosciutto, five different kinds of sausage, roasted vegetables, and some of the most delicious cheeses I’ve ever tasted. We canceled the orders for dinner and just feasted on the antipasto.
There is no specific Christmas Eve that sticks out. Instead this meal makes the list because it has been exactly the same for as long as I can remember. That’s what I love about Christmas Eve in my family, the tradition. My great-grandmother used to cook the traditional Polish meal and have everyone (about 25 people) at her house. When she was too old, my grandmother took over. Every year, the meal is exactly the same. Grandma makes pierogie, sauerkraut, mushroom soup, fried white fish, pickled herring, and fruit compote. The food is homey and comforting and cooked with lots of butter. After dinner we open gifts and then return to the huge table for cookies, nut roll, and coffee. I love my family’s traditions and take pride in them. And someday, I might be the one cooking this same exact meal for my grandchildren.
Family Dinners at Kiawah
The reasons for cherishing the family dinners during our summer vacations at the beach are very similar to the reasons for loving Christmas Eve dinner. Whereas Christmas Eve is always celebrated with my mom’s side of the family, summer trips to the beach were always with my dad’s side of the family. All of the aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents stayed in the same beach house and each person was in charge of making dinner for everyone one night of the week. After a long day of playing in the waves, building sand castles, and flying kites, there was always a big plate of spaghetti or barbequed chicken shared with all my family to look forward to at the end of the day.
Backyard at Mickey’s
Last summer I had a few friends, Jamie, Alyssa and her roommate, and Dave, over for dinner at my aunt’s house when they were out of town for the weekend. I made a spinach salad and ravioli for dinner. And we had lots and lots of wine and rum. We sat for hours in the backyard drinking and talking and enjoying each other’s company. It was exactly what a good meal should be: good friends and good food. Everyone stayed late and some of the guests hooked up later that night, but that’s another story completely.
Picnic in the Park in Madrid
Jamie, Jordana and I traveled to Spain and visited with Amy in Madrid. Amy was a great host and gave us a full tour of the city. We spent Sunday afternoon in the park, eating our picnic, dancing in the drum circles, drawing by the lake and smoking jays. The picnic was a feast of tomato and cheese sandwiches, pistachio nuts, corn nuts, chocolate covered raisins, grapes, strawberries, and cheap wine mixed with coke. It was a great afternoon and one of the highlights of the whole vacation.
Honorable Mentions:Maryland crabs at Mickey’s lake house, the best seafood I’ve ever had in New York City, Indian food in Amsterdam, Rasta at All Good Festival, Samrat and dude lunches, corn on the cob on the backyard bonfire, Saturday morning pancakes with Kath.