11 Most Memorable Meals of My Life

 

Elise (The French Exit) started it. Then Natalie (Another Perfume Blog) picked it up. And finally Joan (Scentsate) posted her list and Sigrun (Riktig Parfym) joined the group. I thought it was a fun idea – even though not related to perfumes, so here’s my list of meals (or sometimes just food items) that I remembered throughout my life (in approximately chronological order).

Rusty Through the Wine Glass

1. Mashed potato after three days of fasting due to stomach problems. I was 5, I think. It was made with water in which potato boiled instead of milk or cream but it was the tastiest smashed potato I’ve ever eaten.

2. Apples at my grandparents’ garden. I don’t know the variety; I’ve never tasted it anywhere else. But those apples were unbelievably good: juicy, crunchy, with just the right balance of sweetness and tartness. And it’s not just the way I recall: many Grandma’s friends and neighbors had acknowledged at the time how exceptional those apples were.

3. Food in my kindergarten was awful. Knowing realities of the time, I think it was due to complete lack of interest in the results of their work and stealing on the part of the kitchen stuff. And we were forced to eat it. I hated every meal. One day my mom’s friend took me to see a dentist. As a reward for my sufferings she gave me several sugar cubes to take with me to the kindergarten. A cream of wheat that afternoon improved significantly (later I tried: it didn’t work with soups).

4. Traditional Thanksgiving Cranberry mold salad at my friends’ K & D place. It’s a dish made to accompany turkey instead of a regular cranberry sauce: cranberries ground with a manual grinder, sugar, chopped apples, walnuts and celery, gelatin melted in orange juice – everything mixed together and refrigerated overnight in a form. I liked it the first time I tried it and more than 10 years later still love it. As well as the traditional Thanksgiving dinner at my friends’ house.

Cranberry Mold Salad

5. Dinner at Sensei Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Maui. The chef does his take on Japanese cuisine: soy sauce is something you do not get there since each roll comes with its own sauce. My absolute favorite is Sansei’s Mango Crab Salad Roll (see below) and Panko Crusted Ahi Sashimi Sushi Roll. If you ever on Maui, visit one of their several locations (check the website I linked to) – it’s worth it!

Crab Mango Roll Sensei

6. Bar Crudo restaurant in San Francisco: each bite is just perfect. Love the food but on the last couple of visits was underwhelmed by the service. Still will give them another chance the next time I’m in vicinity. If you decide to try it, make sure you have a reservation and enough time.

Bar Crudo's Nicoise

7. My general rule is to avoid buffets: I do not eat enough to justify the price for good ones and it makes no sense to eat in bad ones. But there is an exception to this rule: buffet at Bellagio, Las Vegas. It’s not a fine dining experience and it’s not cheap but every time I’m in Vegas I try to eat there because I like both the quality of food and the variety.

8. One time vacationing on Maui with another couple for several days we discussed why we couldn’t see the moon – even though the sky was clear. It was a mystery, neither of us could think of an explanation. One evening my vSO and I decided to go for a dinner – just two of us – to a restaurant that we liked many years earlier during our first visit to Maui. That restaurant was long gone but since it was a beautiful and romantic spot we found a new restaurant there – Merryman’s. The food was even better than we remembered; the atmosphere was very romantic and, what was the most amazing: we found the moon! It turned out that it could be seen once it gets dark (see the picture) and then within an hour it goes down and hides behind the horizon.

Disappearing Moon on Maui

9. Mac and cheese made by my friend and co-worker M. for an office potluck. I’m not sure if I’d ever tried this dish before – it wasn’t something I grew up with and it didn’t seem appealing to me as an adult. But since I like most things prepared by M. I decided to try it and loved it. It’s still the only M&C I eat whenever she agrees to make it. So it’s probably good that office’s potluck happens just once a year.

Mac and Cheese

10. Rugelach from one of the bakeries close to my office. I’m addicted to it but do not get to eat them often since even though it’s usually gone really fast the bakery doesn’t make them too often. I have a network of spies who alert me when the new batch is spotted.

11. Beef Wellington cooked by my friend K. for the 1012 New Year celebration. It looked and tasted divine.

Beef Wellington

What was the latest great meal you can remember?

 

Images: Mango Crab Roll – from Sensei website; everything else – my own.

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55 thoughts on “11 Most Memorable Meals of My Life

  1. I love how you guys say ‘smashed potato’over there – we say ‘mashed’, though there is a famous brand of instant mashed potato in the UK called ‘Smash’.

    Your meal memories are so evocative – I can also relate to the childhood ones like apples and poor school dinners. Being forced to eat liver still haunts me.

    Love the sushi from Hawaii!! We don’t have anything as exotic round here but I love sushi when I am travelling. Best great meal lately? The meze platter I had this week for my birthday was pretty special – falafel and dips and spanakopt- something! Delicious. And I have been pleasantly surprised lately by my own forays into curry making (at the risk of blowing my own trumpet!)

    • No-no, it’s not how “we” call it – it was all my lack of sleep. Sorry :)

      I love sushi! If I had more than 11 choices I would have mentioned at least a couple of sushi-related memories more.

      When you have a chance ;) you’ll have to tell me more about your cooking.

    • In my house we had both smashed and mashed. If my mom made them smooth and fluffy with no lumps or peels then they were mashed potatoes. If she was in a hurry she’d just mush them up a bit and they still had lumps and some peel, those she called smashed. Either way they are a favorite of mine.

      • ‘They peel them with their metal knives… boil them for twenty of their minutes…then they smash them all to bits.’

        ‘They are clearly a most primitive people.’ ;)

  2. I love food. My best recent meal was the roasted chicken dinner I made last week. It was plain and simple and really hit the spot. I’m also partial to the sushi that they make at our Wegman’s grocery store. Whenever I buy some it never makes it out of the parking lot.

      • Yup, that about sums it up. In my defense I was told by one of the cashiers that sometimes people eat it while they are shopping and when they get to the register the cashiers scan an empty container.

  3. Hey Undina,
    Great post. Currently I’m in India and almost every meal seems like I’m in a 5 star Indian Restaurant. It’s taken me 13 years to become proficient in my Indian food and finally I feel at home eating here.
    At our place we have both mashed and smashed, mashed is same as everywhere but smashed is boiled baby potatoes in their skins squashed with the meat mallet till the skins burst then covered with butter, sour cream, chives and black pepper. There are NEVER any left overs.
    Portia xx

    • Thank you, dear Portia!

      I love Indian food and for a long time I just had to have it at least once a week… until they closed my favorite place. I still have it once or twice a month but the craving is gone.

      Enjoy your time in India!

  4. In no particular order:
    1. While visiting San Francisco a couple weeks ago, we went to Sausalito for sushi to a place called Sushi Ran. It was fabulous!

    2. Another great meal was at the fancy restaurant in Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen.

    3. My husband makes fresh pesto with ingredients from the farmer’s mkt and a mortar and pestle. It’s amazing how different it tastes when you don’t make it in a food processor. It’s delicious on anything, but we put it on fresh bread with a slice of tomato and a thin slice of asiago.

    4. My hubby made scallops with champagne sauce for New Year’s a couple years ago. Fabulous!

    5. We had a fantastic meal in an Indian restaurant in London, but I don’t remember the name of it.

    6. My mom makes an incredible cranberry sauce at thanksgiving too. Hand ground cranberries, lots of citrus peel.

    I’m lucky to be married to man who likes to cook, and is a great cook! Easy for us to be foodies.

  5. It’s funny to hear about your kindergarten food experience because I had a similar one in first grade. That was the year when school was a whole day and we were introduced to the cafeteria. It was such a horrible shock: the first meal they served us was a very watery, grey-looking creamed turkey over rice. It looked like the gruel dished out to Oliver Twist and the other orphans in the poorhouse. I let it sit on my plate and got in trouble with the cafeteria lady, who said I had to eat it. Luckily when her back was turned, my friend Robin said she would eat it for me. And that was the start of a great friendship.

    Loved your selection here (especially the sushi) and hearing about your tracking down the elusive Maui moon. And that photo of Rusty is funny – he almost doesn’t look like himself; he looks rather wistful. Was he quite young in that photo?

    • I had bad food experiences at school as well: I remember carrying out kabobs in my uniform’s pocket because I couldn’t eat them, wasn’t allowed not to and was too young to rebel yet. But, on the other hand, I was “your friend Robin”: I loved hot milk that everybody else hated. So when after the second period we were given that milk (delivered to the classroom) a couple of my friends would “pay” me with their snacks to drink their milk ;)

      It’s a picture of Rusty from less than a year ago. But, you know, through the wine glass everything looks slightly different (I heard those have a similar effect on men’s perception of women ;) )

  6. Best meal of late? Coming home starving from a day of making dough, to find my bodybuilding son had made me steak and salad, no carbs!! What tastes better than a meal your kid makes for you?

    • A dinner that you do not have to make for yourself after a work day gets an extra couple of points in my book regardless of the food :) Good son!

  7. What a fantastic post! I love reading things like this because it’s fascinating to me how memory and food can be so intimately tied together. Thank you so much for sharing!

    I also want to add that I may be shamelessly stealing the cranberry mold idea for Thanksgiving :-) It just sounds too good!

  8. This is a great list. I think I could make an entire sushi list, too, and I definitely could make an entire San Francisco list. There is so much great food. As you know, whenever I go back, I have a big list. :)

    I’m curious about mac n cheese. I can definitely understand how if you had not had it, it would not sound good. But once you had a very good one, didn’t that make you want to try others?

    • The thing is: I do not eat pasta. I don’t really dislike it, I have a couple of dishes I like eating from time to time but, in general, pasta represents for me “empty calories” and I’d rather eat a piece of cake than a bowl of pasta (or rice). But I did try a couple more since then and just confirmed to myself: most weren’t worth wasting calories ;)

  9. Rusty’s through the wine glass is just too cute! Have you considered making a magnet out of it and selling it?

    The latest great meal for me was actually a Rutgers University (New Jersey) Alumni Wine Tasting and Cooking Demonstration event. The theme this year was French food, paired with New Jersey wines! The food was tasty, the wine was perfectly paired and the company was fabulous…old friends (even if a number were not alumni) made for a memorable meal.

    • Thank you, hajusuuri, I’ll give Rusty a treat :) So far I’m just a crazy cat owner who forces her cat’s pictures only on readers, friends and co-workers. But I’ll think about your idea ;)

      Your event sounds great! I’m not a big fan of French wines but food… It was a good idea for paring. And having it with friends usually makes everything even better.

    • Elisa, you can see how contagious your idea was! You got at least four followers – not even trying to organize the project! So thank you.

      Sushi for the wedding – even as informal as yours was – sounds extremely exotic :) Now you can make a tradition out of it and for every anniversary try a new sushi place.

  10. My most recent memorable meal was a braised duck – bought from a farmer friend down the road who raises them, cooked by my mother and husband together when she was visiting last weekend. It was stupendous.

  11. I really enjoyed all your takes on the most memorable meals. :)

    And now I come to think of it, I don’t know what was my last memorable meal. I am surrounded by rather good cooks so and we all enjoy food, so basically all I eat is good.
    Hmm, I have it! :) I would also call this one of my most memorable meals – shared in Paris with Suzanne, Mark and Asali – a foie gras salad that was perfect. Many things we ate there were great, but that salad stands out as a perfect combination of tastes for me (along with a bunch of tasty vegetables).

  12. So glad you decided to take up this post idea. I knew you’d have some great food-related stories.

    I have stomach issues so a pretty restrictive diet (hence no memorable meals to recall), but I really want to get into sushi. I’m hopefully going with my sister next Friday to a sushi restaurant for the first time. The one in Maui sounds amazing and love the pics.

    • I have a lot of tummy issues too, Tara. But sushi always goes well! No gluten, no dairy, no beef, no pork, no cabbage, and no red onions for me. I really can’t drink wine, either. But I do it anyway!

      • Thanks Annina. I never thought about it that way but it’s true, red meat and onions are the worst for me so maybe sushi will actually be a good option.

    • From a dietary prospective sushi is a great choice. But if it’s actually your first attempt at sushi it’s extremely important to go to a really good place and preferably with somebody who knows their way around. I hope you’ll like it.

      • That’s really helpful advice. I’ve been looking at Japanese restaurants in London and the highly rated ones are so pricey but now I think maybe it’ll be worth it.

  13. I loved reading this. Food is one of my greatest passions, far more so than perfume, so this was simply wonderful! I loved the glimpses into food through your eyes and experiences, though I shuddered on your behalf at your school stories. But the photo of that sushi from Sensei….. My GOD, I wanted to lick the screen. I adore sushi passionately. You know, given my obsession with gastronomy, cooking and food, I don’t know if I could even draw up a list of memorable meals. It’s a pretty hard thing to do, so really nice job, Undina.

    BTW, your comment to Suzanne — “through the wine glass everything looks slightly different (I heard those have a similar effect on men’s perception of women )” — made me choke on my coffee. Hilarious!

      • 1. Gastronomy
        2. Gastronomy
        3. Gastronomy
        4. History
        5. German Shepherds
        6. Books
        7. Perfumes. LOL.

        My dream from childhood to adulthood has always been/will always be to be a restaurant critic. It is stands above all else. Perfumes, though I love them, never ranked very high on my list of main passions in life, so it was quite bewildering to all my friends when I chose to write about them. History is always the thing most people associate with me, then German Shepherds and lastly, food. Yet, food (or gastronomy, to be precise) is the ultimate passion above all else. :)

  14. I so enjoyed reading your list! As I have small kids most of the food I cook is just the same repetitive dishes over and over again that I only cook because I know the kids will eat them. Therefore I really get a kick out of reading about exciting meals that MEAN something :) And that sushi looks very very good!!!

  15. Hi Undina, glad you pitched in!

    Thanks for posting that awesome cranberry salad Thanksgiving recipe. Being a vegetarian, I can definitely use it this coming one!

    Sounds like great sushi too!

    • Joan, I’ll send you a recipe too once I get to it (in a couple of weeks): I would love more people to try and like it! It’s not too hard to make but very tasty.

  16. Pingback: 11 Memorable Meals | Scentsate

  17. I think your kindergarten food experience is similar to my daycare food experience. I used to go to a daycare after kindergarten while my mother was still at work. They had the worst food there. Most days we’d get canned chicken noodle soup with the world’s flakiest, tasteless crackers. Other days we’d get macaroni and cheese that smelled faintly of the lemon cleaning solution the kitchen used.

    Then when a bunch of parents brought up their concerns for a healthier menu, they started giving us carrot and celery sticks and apple slices. On a good day, we would get a teaspoon of salad dressing as a dip.One day the day care felt fancy, they were making and serving up sloppy joes. Leave it to me to be sick that day, of course!

    • I remember that both in a kindergarten and an after school daycare I thought how it was unfair – not even the fact that food wasn’t that tasty but that we were still forced to eat it!

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