Sometimes you remember food – specific plates or tastes burned into your tastebud memories. I remembered one of the oddest of mine today. I was sitting on the coast of Puglia on the sand of a town called Ostuni. My friends and I had taken the train down from Ascoli for our spring vacation. We walked from the whitewashed town on the hill, plodding down past ancient olive trees toward the shimmering blue sea. It was off season and the resorts were boarded up, even though it was warm enough to swim. We found the only cafe open seemingly for miles, and his lunch selection was slim. I ordered a hot dog, and it was delivered to me cut in half on a baguette and smothered in mayonnaise. What.
But already being used to mayo on fries, I ate it anyway, and it was the most delicious hot dog of my life.
Maybe it was because of the setting, maybe because of the memory being created as we ate on the beach. All I know is I thought of that silly hot dog today, nine years later.
Other moments in my food-memory:
- Warm, salty dough cakes on weekend mornings at the Farm while looking out at the mountain before heading up to ski.
- The tortellini in the balsamic vinegar sauce from the tiny trattoria in Parma – packed full of locals on their lunch break while Luna sat on my lap.
- Tuna sandwiches while sitting on the dock on the lake in Maine and feeding the crust to the ducks.
- Roast beef dinners at home on Sundays – the proper
- The Brussels sprouts at my friend’s wedding (ironically, she was with me for the hot dog) – I still don’t know why these stuck
- When our tour of Italy had lunch at a highway rest stop, and my entire family immediately realized that if rest-stop pizza is this good, the US is certainly doing something wrong.
- Tasting real Olive Ascolana – the stuffed and fried olives from Ascoli – during my first day in the city, and also the moment when Rami’s face lit up the first time he tried the real thing with me when we went back together a few years later.
- The first time my mum made her chicken saltimbocca.
- A medium soft-serve twist ice cream in a plain cone with jimmies from Dandi-Lyons that used to be on 125.
- Swiss Miss hot chocolate packets mixed with water. My coworker here was horrified with that one. Which reminds me:
- My first Italian hot chocolate made by my soon-to-be best friends, Shereen and Paolo, in Ascoli. Thick as warm chocolate soup and topped with panna (this is also the moment I learned that Italian word) – whipped cream.
- Mall pretzels
- Italian sausages outside of Fenway
- The first time Rami made me his chicken curry, huddled over the perfectly presented plates as we sat on the couch in the studio apartment by the Duomo.
If I sit here long enough, I could write a very random and personal book on this. And I’m the type of person that honestly doesn’t appreciate food as much as many, and certainly can’t cook any of it very well. I can only imagine the pages running through the heads of others that have a passion behind their palate. It’s when I write things like this that make me remember how much of our lives and memories revolve around what we eat.