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My Most Memorable Meal

 

What makes a meal memorable?

 

Good food of course. But strangely enough, good food is not enough.

I have had many outstanding dishes that were superbly delicious and tasty; food that was so heavenly gratifying that I did not want to swallow it but let it roll around my mouth  and tantalize my taste buds forever – like the fresh Alaskan King Crab I had in San Francisco, or the Leg Of Lamb some where in France.  But all I remember of those meals is the food. I don’t remember too much else about it.

Why is that?

There is an illusive quality to a memorable meal. When some one first suggested I do a post on my most memorable meal I knew which meal it was almost instantly. And I had a back up ready too. But I wasn’t sure why I choose those two meals.

Had to think on that……..a lot.

I think the main component to a memorable meal is the company, the camaraderie, esprit de corps. It is breaking bread together and appreciating and enjoying life and life-giving sustenance with one another. Add in a dash of magic, and you have a memorable meal.

The two most memorable meals I share with you today are total and complete opposites.

Meal Number One was in Caen, in Lower Normandy France.

1 fr mealWhen my niece Lory graduated college I took her on trip to England and France. It was a group tour. This particular night dinner was on our own. We could not find a restaurant we liked in the small town where our hotel was for the night.

So I suggested we go into the nearest big town, Caen, about 20-30 miles away and see what we could find there.

Lory was game and so we asked Peggy and her daughter Sarah from St. Louis, Missouri, who we had befriend and liked a lot, if they would like to join us for an excursion. They thought it a terrific idea too. All of us were in the mood for seafood and with the help of our tour director we found a very nice seafood restaurant in downtown Caen.

So we made reservations for 7 p.m. at L’Ecaille Restaurant de Fruits de Mer.

We took the 30 minute bus ride into downtown Caen and then walked another few blocks to the restaurant.

We managed the language barrier very well. Between my very broken one-word French, my dictionary, and one waiter who spoke some limited English we all ordered and conversed with the restaurant staff. Everyone was having a wonderful time.

I ordered the fresh caught fish in a white wine sauce.

We were having a grand time, laughing, talking, and enjoying the salad and bread and the attentive French wait staff. Oh my…the fresh baked bread….. and the fresh butter melted in my mouth.

And oh, don’t forget the wine. Oh the wine. The wine flowed very easily that night.

When our entrees arrived the waiter who set the plate in front of me said something to me that sounded like, “Pepare.”1 france 2 I thought he was asking me if I wanted more pepper on my fish. So I said, “Non.”

He got the funniest look on his face and seemed shocked, almost horrified. I looked over at the waiter who could speak some English and asked did I say something wrong?

What the first waiter was really asking me was, “Did I want him to debone (désosser) my fish.”

So without missing a beat, I turned toward the French speaking waiter and said, “Oui.” “Oui Oui Oui Oui Oui.”  “Oui, Oui, OUI.” I told the English speaking waiter that I thought he had asked me if I wanted more pepper, which he with a hearty laugh told my waiter. All of the French waiters had a big laugh over that as did everyone at our table.

The waiter deftly deboned the fish with flare and élan. We all applauded. It made him blush.

The rest of the meal was pretty much like that as we had great fun conversing with the wait staff and they seemed to enjoy us as well.

The meal was fantastic. Well it was French after all. I have NEVER had a bad meal in France.

Everyone loved what they ordered that night and appreciated the attention of the staff as they made every part of our meal memorable.

When it came time for dessert a waiter rolled a huge cart over to our table with dozens of different French pastries and sweets. He asked what I wanted and I could not make up my mind. I mean there were Éclairs, mousse, crème puffs, crepes, fresh fruits, and so much more….and I wanted it all!

I was joking and kidding with the waiter when I asked if I could have more than one thing on the cart. He said, “Oui.” And he wasn’t kidding. He let me have anything and everything I wanted. I had a bit of chocolate mousse, a bit of fresh strawberries in orange liqueur, and a small éclair.

It was a perfect ending to a perfect meal.

This memorable meal was not only delicious it was magic. The French wait staff warmed my heart with their graciousness and touched my soul with their generosity.

This was truly a memorable night of a celebration of friendship, food, and life.

And yes, I left a huge, and I mean HUGE tip.

The second memorable meal I want to share with you was the polar opposite of my French dinner.

1 barnA teacher friend and her new husband had just bought an old farmhouse. They were not living in it yet, as they were modernizing it. The barn needed a new roof. They were going to put it on themselves and asked if I would like to help.

I said, “Sounds like fun. Sure.”

It was hard, hard, HARD physical work. I have never worked so hard in my life. It was just back breaking almost drudgery. If it hadn’t been for the fun of working with friends I would not have stayed with it.

We started at 7 a.m. and went straight through to 6 or 7 p.m. We did not stop to eat. I had eaten a big breakfast before hand so that helped. And we had fruit to eat during the day as we continued to work.

But by the time we finished getting the roof on the barn completed I was starved. I, never before or since, have been so hungry.

The only food Nancy had in the fridge was hamburger. Just hamburger. NOTHING ELSE. We cleaned up a bit and made hamburgers. There was no seasoning, no bread, no condiments. Really. Just the hamburger fried in a skillet.

That hamburger was one of the most delicious hamburgers and meals I have ever eaten.

I guess hard physical labor makes any meal taste gourmet.

There you have it; the two most memorable meals in my life.

What was your most memorable meal (s) and why?

1 blue_and_purple 

Featured Recipe        Tomatoes Stuffed With Corn

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It has been hot, humid, and stormy here the last few days. So, of course, I have been fixing meals that require little to no cooking. Summer cooking is upon us at last!

This is a colorfully pretty, not to mention, down right tasty quick and easy dinner, that requires no cooking. Served with a hunk of crusty bread with lots of butter it is very filling.

You could substitute a red pepper for the tomato if so desired.

The recipe can be easily doubled or tripled.

This is what you will need for 2 people

1 can of corn or 2 ears fresh corn

2 large tomatoes

2-3 green onions

3 slices bacon

1 lime – zest and juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

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Here is what you do:

Cut off the top of the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and some of the pulp to make a hollow space in the tomatoes. You can use a knife to cut out the pulp or a melon baller. Discard the seeds but not the pulp. Put the pulp in a large bowl.

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Lightly salt the insides of the tomatoes. Turn the tomatoes upside down on paper towels to drain the tomatoes.

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Drain the can of corn and place in the bowl with the tomato pulp.

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NOTE: If using fresh corn cook corn water or in the microwave. Cool the corn and cut off the kernels, then place in the bowl.

NOTE: For a different flavor entirely grill the corn until lightly charred.

Fry or nuke the bacon and when cool chop or break up into bits and pieces. Place the bacon into a bowl.

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Wash and chop the green onion; white and green portions, and place in the bowl with the corn. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper to taste.

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Using a zester zest the lime directly into the bowl.

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Make the Dressing

Add the olive oil to another bowl and squeeze the juice of one half of the lime into the oil. Add a bit of salt and pepper.

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Whisk the dressing until emulsified.

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Pour over the corn mixture and gently mix together.

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Spoon the corn mixture into the tomato shells. Can be refrigerated for up to 3 hours at this point.

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When ready to serve sprinkle the corn with the cheese.

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If you want a cool way to serve the tomatoes save the tomato tops you cut off in step one.  Place them on top of the corn. Doesn’t that look sassy….kinda like a woman wearing a French tam?

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Serve with bread and butter and some olives.

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Bon appétit!!!

Cost

1 can of corn             $1.39

2 large tomatoes        $3.96

2-3 green onions        $0.24

3 slices bacon            $0.84

1 lime                       $0.50

2 tbspn olive oil          $0.46

2 tbspn Parm             $0.51

Salt & pepper

Total cost = $7.90
Cost per person = $3.95

Quote of the Day

Everybody dies, there’s no avoiding it and I do not believe for one second that butter is the cause of anyone’s death. Overeating may be, but not butter, please. I just feel bad for people who make that mistake. By the way the same thing is true of olive oil. What difference could it possibly make if there’s a little olive oil in your salad dressing? It does not take one day off your life.”

Nora Ephron

Newsweek, August 2009

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8 comments to My Most Memorable Meal

  • What lovely stories. I don’t know if I have ever been that hungry – maybe I’ve never worked hard enough 🙂

    Your tomatoes look wonderful.

    • Roberta

      I know you, Maureen. You have worked that hard. Maybe no one offered you plain hamburgers. 🙂

  • Wow, my first most memorable meal was also in France. My mom and I went to Cap Ferrat for a friend’s wedding and then traveled into the Provence area. We were staying in Aix-en-Provence we decided to try to eat a restaurant outside of Cavaillon, it was one that Peter Mayle wrote about. We drove around this tiny little speck of a village trying to find this resturant. I love that this restaurant only served one meal a day… the meal started with fresh cavaillon melon wrapped in prochuttio and basil. I can’t really remember what else we ate but it was so delicious! We did get to sample some of the cheese at the cheese table. The cheese table had several which was a table of cheese on plates and in jars. Some of the cheese was amazing and some was super stinky. Wowza but it is the most memorable meal I have had, ever!

    • Roberta

      There is something about French food. Not quite sure what it is…but it is there for sure. Your meal sounds delightful, Kate! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • I know what you mean about meals. After starving for 4 days on our stupid canoe trip, lemonade and cookies tasted like heaven. Cute tomatoes! So Midwest!

  • Pete

    A great post as usual! I have had some very good meals so let me get back to you as my favorite !

    • Roberta

      Thanks, Pete.

      It is hard sometimes to choose just one from many meals. Feel free to share several meals, Pete.