Memory: a work lunch where, with my two co-workers, we order dessert. I very, very rarely order dessert at a restaurant, and no wonder; there’s enough calories in a dessert to be a whole meal, and I’ve already eaten a bowl of lobster bisque and half my sandwich and I really don’t NEED any more food.
Shared dessert is the perfect solution. The truth is that cannoli, a wonderful combination of crunchy wafer cookie and thick, ricotta-rich sweet cream with chocolate chips in it, is just too much for any one person. I am sure there are circumstances when cannoli, this particular pile of it, would be perfect to be relished alone, but it would have made me ill that day. 1/3 of it, however, was totally perfect.
That’s the thing about good, rich, sweet things in life: I’m so much worse at appreciating them when I’m alone. Instead, I need to look into another pair of eyes and share that bright feeling of “are you tasting this?” as we both dig in to something that has absolutely no vegetables in it. I can eat vegetables, fruits, and whole grains alone, feeling like I’m nourishing myself and thus the life I’m leading in community, but with dessert… mmm it’s just better to get 3 forks and dig in together.
In a month of health problems, grief, and overwhelming amounts of work, Husband and I took a weekend in a nearby city to cut the stress and try to recover a bit. I wasn’t feeling my best, but that is nothing that a plate of lemon ricotta pancakes couldn’t help. This memory is perfect for me – the most delightful crispy edge on the pancakes, the tart berry sauce they gave me, and of course the morsel of that amazing hash brown that I stole from Husband’s plate. Sometimes, especially on crazy Mondays, I like having pictures of past meals that have helped me to relax. This feeling of treasuring a sweet memory, a good moment in a good day, is so great for propelling me forward through the many tasks that lie ahead this week.
In Asheville, NC, there is a barbecue joint open only for lunch, where you order at the counter and seat yourself, serve your own sauce, and everything they make is heavenly. The pulled pork sandwich here pictured is slathered with a blueberry chipotle sauce – equal parts fiery and sweet – and the sweet potatoes and mild mac and cheese even it out in a soul-food trifecta. I visited with Husband and stood in a long line for this food, and learned that every bite tastes like triumph once you get to the front of the line. It makes me think of how restaurants that truly hit on a unique recipe for success can make a few different choices – they can brand and expand, which results in a lot of joy, or they can double-down on the small-time successes and limit their offerings. While this restaurant could definitely franchise out and be successful, and it could open for dinner and weekends, they create a scarcity that prompts travellers to stop and marvel because they chose to stick with making the best food possible and not sending it out all over. It’s locally-chosen, locally-designed food at it’s finest.
I ate this savory egg-filled crepe on top of a mountain by Husband, who was then Boyfriend. I think part of why I feel so at rest when visiting my now-in-laws is that there is so much good food near their home! Going for a walk of 20 minutes is enough to get you from front door to the creperie, and smothering my potatoes in garlic aioli always satisfies me in a way that makes a long day of housework, games, football, or sightseeing feel possible and exciting.
My sister doesn’t indulge in eating out often, so the week I joined her in Georgia and we each did homework all day was punctuated by trying most of the exotic restaurants she hadn’t tried herself. This sampler had baba ganoush, hummus, phillo pockets, and falafel with sauce. While each individual item wasn’t filling, eating a bunch of tiny things was so fun because it was something to talk about with my sister that wasn’t the long essays we were each writing, her for college and me for graduate school. The past few years have been really great for our friendship, and memories like this one have helped.