To celebrate the arrival of The Lost Recipe for Happiness, and share in my deep pleasure, I’ve come up with a food-related contest, with a food related gift for the winners!
Throughout The Lost Recipe for Happiness, the characters ask each other for their favorite foods. Most of them are chefs or restauranteurs, and it’s a way of taking each other’s measure, finding out who they are, much as readers ask each other what they’ve read. The happy angle is that we all have favorite food moments, and food is so central to our lives that it’s a very real pleasure to talk about those favorites, no matter what they are. (See my #7, below!)
This is such a delightful game to play that I came up with a contest for it. Take a look at my list, and then take a minute to post your own. It doesn’t have to be ten–it can be just one, perfect beautiful memory. Do five or six. Whatever feels right to you.
On January 15, I will draw from all the names of those who have posted and two will win a beautiful prize basket, including a cookbook (either Santa Fe Cooking School or Cafe Pasqual), plus a selection of Mexican hot chocolate, chile-infused chocolate bars and my favorite: very special red chile powder from Chimayo. Just having this chile in my office is making me dizzy!
So, read the top ten food moments, and then post your comments below. (If you are desperately shy you can post anonymously and check back to see if it was your name drawn.) Have fun!
My Top Ten Favorite Food Memories
1. Root beer floats with my grandmother at the A&W Root Beer. The long spoons, the milky suds, the sugary brown crystals on top of the ice cream, and my grandmother across the table, telling a story.
2. Roast rabbit, in a very small southern Italian village. I was not about to eat something so cute and fluffy, something you could cuddle, but the woman serving us insisted that I would mourn forever if I didn’t try it. It arrived with chicory and mashed fava beans and red wine. The chicory was too bitter for my tastes, but the rabbit tasted like summer, like a sunny grassy field. Rich and deep, broad and salty, a flavor that fills your whole mouth.
3. Goat cheese, fresh tomatoes, and cucumbers stuffed into a baguette; lunch on a hiking tour in the French alps. The air smelled of the wild thyme we had crushed beneath our boots.
4. Pork and avocado burritos at Los Tres, a family business tucked into a corner of the food court of the Pueblo, Colorado mall, everything served on paper plates with plastic spoons by the wife and the cousins and the sisters and brothers while a television plays talk shows in the corner. Local green chiles and slippery, mushy chunks of avocado mixed with slow roasted pork, and long-simmered, very spicy chile. It also smells heavenly.
5. Homemade sausage gravy served over his secret recipe buttermilk biscuits, as made by my children’s father every Sunday through their young years.
6. A picnic served on the sidelines of a grassy field where Indian computer geeks played cricket. The day was cloudy, the game incomprehensible, but my new boyfriend-who did not cook at all-had assembled the offering to show me what an English-style picnic would look like. There were dozens of dishes, each individually set out in its own container, crisp long Romaine lettuce leaves and sliced tomatoes and onions, tidy slices of bread and chunky Branston pickle and sliced meats and ginger beer. It started to rain, but my British partner was prepared for that, too, and we ate it all under a giant umbrella, watching cricket and eating cold cuts and shivering companionably in the damp.
7. Pears. All pears, even tinny-tasting canned pears in heavy syrup, but especially brown bosc pears straight out of the orchards.
8. A bagel smeared with Marmite and a hot cup of sweet milky tea poured from a thermos, served at the summit of Pikes Peak by the same slightly batty Brit. We had just survived a lightning storm and hours of hail while manning a water station during the Pikes Peak Ascent, an extreme trail run. Maybe the best meal I’ve ever eaten.
9. Bradon roast salmon with whiskey sauce, eaten on the freezing cold banks of Loch Fyne. I wasn’t going to try it because someone force-fed me salmon from a can as a child and I hated it. Our guide gently suggested this might be a lot different. It tasted of peat and smoke and the great salt sea and the cold winds pouring down Highland slopes and the musky dark heart of Scotland.
10. My own tamales, in all their forms. It took me a long time to master them, and it is a gigantic undertaking, a whole day of cooking, and smelling spices, and cooking the duck or the pork to falling-apart tenderness, and spreading masa just right on husks, and tying them closed, and steaming them, and then waiting and waiting, and eating that very first one out of the pot, rolling it out steaming onto a plate and taking the first bite and knowing it was worth every second. Every second.
Okay, your turn: what are your favorite food memories, foodie moments, foods you will never forget?