Returning home from vacation has been wonderful. We brought home some lovely PEI oysters and we have been having so much fun finding different ways to serve them. I have been creating different toppings and have even gotten my children hooked as well. It's been a lot of fun.
We have also been catching up on all the episodes of our favorite show Masterchef that we missed while away, and as we were watching the other night, the chefs talked about what their favorite meal was that they had ever experienced. It got me to thinking about the restaurant experience versus the home cooking that we so enjoy around here and if I had any special memories of my own best meals of the past. I also was thinking about how food is always instrumental in celebrations, and how scents and smells can bring a memory right back as if it happened only yesterday.
There are some people I have had experience with in life that absolutely abhor to eating out. They never do it, take pride in never doing it, and seem to pass a judgement on those that do. I also know people that eat out all the time, and therefore the exciting and special moments that are created by doing so are somewhat lost. I think the best balance are the ones who eat out once in awhile. It creates a special moment, a memory. You are able to savor the time, the food and the company.
I think experiencing different foods is so exciting. When I eat out, I try to never order anything I would make at home. I want to experiment and try new flavours. I love to explore different cultures through food as well. Thai, Indian, Greek, Japanese, whatever it is, I'll try it once.
So as I was thinking on this topic, I started going back in to my own memories, and what special food moments stand out for me from my past. And there are quite a few. I remember first trying Borscht in a restaurant in Konigswinter, Germany. I was only 11 or 12 but I remember it clearly. I remember the blood red soup as it was served to me and my first bite...unsure, but then happy. I loved it. With that memory brings back the memory of the town, and what we did that day. The sights and sounds. An experience.
I also have memories of eating frites with mayonnaise at a market in Holland. Gone was the ketchup of home and in its place was this creamy mayo. And I was hooked. With that memory I can still see my Mom and Dad standing with me, smiling as I took my first bite, and the hustle and bustle of the market place going on all around me. I can still see the church steeple, and the cobble stone paths, and all the bikes in the stands, row on row. So now, whenever I dip a fry in mayo instead of ketchup, all that comes rushing back to me. But no frite will ever be as good as that first one.
I remember my first taste of Alaskan King Crab in a beautiful restaurant on the top of Grouse Mountain in Vancouver, BC, Canada and my first visit to a revolving restaurant that overlooked the city, before we went out to see the BC Boys Choir sing in a church in Vancouver. And one of my most memorable food experiences was trying Buffalo for the first time. I was on a trip through the Rockies on a Via Rail Train. It was the first time I had been alone without kids or a husband in years. Because I was alone I was seated for dinner with two nuns from Europe. They couldn't speak English, and I couldn't speak their language. But it didn't matter. We drank wine and ate the most amazing Buffalo. We laughed at our inability to speak to one another, but we were still able to communicate over food. And as I watched the beautiful scenery of Mt Robson and the waterfalls pass it was one of the most amazing moments in my life. I felt so peaceful and free. It was a moment I will cherish for my entire life. All these memories weren't just about the food. But the experience. The excitement, the sounds, the adventure of something new.
There is nothing wrong with eating out once in awhile. I couldn't imagine going to Italy and not trying the pasta, or visiting France and not enjoying a glass of crisp white wine alongside a delectable Bouillabaisse in a café watching the world go by.
The experiences of food bring along with it an expanding palate as well as memories frozen in time. From blood red soups to fries with mayo to a Buffalo supper I enjoyed on a train through the Rocky Mountains with 2 nuns who couldn't speak English. These are the food experiences that will forever be a part of my life.