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Oct 1, 2010 11:24 AM

Truly Magic Food Moments. Have any?

You know, the kind of food/flavor memories that are burned into your mind and will be with you until the day you die? Maybe after too, they're that good. I HOPE everybody has some. I suspect "foodies" must. It's our nature. A few of mine are:

Apricots off one specific apricot tree in our back yard when I was a kid. No other apricot tree on planet earth has produced fruit as delicious as that. It's what keeps me buying apricots.

Steak and red wine: We lived in Turkey, I cooked the meal, the beef was prime from Denmark, the wine was Turkish "Kavaklidere." The pairing was sublime. Absolute over the top magic!

One specific sea urchin. I've eaten tons of them. This specific sea urchin was eaten aboard the dive boat, my husband brought up a dive bag full of the purple spiny critters, climbed in the boat and we took out spoons and clippers to open them. After cutting away the critters mouth, I rinsed it out in sea water, then filled my spoon with the most incredible flavor of fresh flowers and urchin roe ever to be imagined. Every sea urchin I've eaten since then always starts with the hope for another taste just like that. Maybe there are no more?

I must include my first taste of Chateau d'Yquem. There is nothing in the world like a truly great sauterne!

And my first taste of prime, truly great beluga caviar. I don't believe there is any caviar extant in the world today to match that, but I am blessed to have the memory!

The thing I find interesting about my own great food memories is that none of them are of the complex, fancy, great chef creations I've been privileged to enjoy in my life time. These are all pretty singular "one note" (if you can use that expression in association with a great sauterne) flavors that burned themselves into my memory and my heart. Curious.

So how about you? Have any? What's your best and brightest?

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  1. Oyster and Pearls at Per Se.

    That first bite of a McDonald's Filet O Fish washed down with a big gulp of Vanilla shake after a long run.

    Pistachio rum ice cream at Scoops (Los Angeles)

    My first experience of duriam. Love at first taste.

    Fresh sugarcane juice in Taiwan

    There are probably others, but those spring to mind right now ...

    1. While I don't actually have much of a sweet tooth, the first thing that leaps to mind is a chocolate revelation: I was a North Dakota college student spending a year abroad in Germany in the late 1980s, and someone gave me some Belgian chocolates (Leonidas brand). They blew my mind: I had no idea chocolate could be that rich and complex and delicate.

      And I was amazed to find the concern for freshness there: the chocolate shop got a delivery or two per week and (so I was told) actually threw out all chocolates from the previous delivery. Back in the USA, I wouldn't have thought twice about eating a chocolate that fell under the sofa three months ago!

      1. My awakening involved eating, for the first time, regional Italian food. Not red-sauce, not boilerplate. Scallopine, Cannelone.......made as they were meant to be........blew my mind. I never looked back.

        1. I have a few that I can think of right now:

          The first time I went to a Pakistani Restaurant. I think I was looking for other places to try that night before I went to bed.

          My first Nehari. Bliss. Pure Bliss. Cold, rainy night in January. Got home late. Stopped by the cheapest Pak place in town. They had it as a special for like 3.00. Pure, beefy, bliss. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

          First time I had sushi in LA. It was in a strip mall next to a Rose Records. It was an eye opening experience. I thought it was gonna be strip mall sushi ( in a bad way.) It turned out to be the best sushi I had in my life up to that point.

          The first time I had real Jerk Chicken from a real Jamaican restaurant. I almost felt depressed because I had been missing out for so long. Heavenly stuff. I make my own jerk paste now, and smoke chicken parts. The stuff is simply insanely good.

          The first time my Father brought home Belgian Chocolates after traveling to Europe. I had no idea how truly awful Hershey is. I can still to this day barely eat Hershey chocolate.

          The first time I had REAL MAYO. My parents were miracle whip ppl. I went to a friend's house when I was 9 or so. We made sandwiches for lunch. They had a jar of Hellman's. I had no idea a sandwich could be so good.

          I also remember vividly the first time I had Gatorade when I was a kid. I thought it was the best thing in the world. Might be a guy thing.

          OOOH here's a good one. The first time I had a really pristinely piece of saba at a sushi bar. Blew my mind.

          The first time I made a really good batch of green chile at home. YAAAAY MEE! No more pining for it.

          My first taste of Texas brisket at abbq place in Dallas. My oh my oh my.

          1 Reply
          1. re: gordeaux

            I was up in Maine for reunion & wedding and one night out got a seafood platter with haddock,fried whole belly clams, scallops and shrimp. OH MY OH MY! I am now craving the clams in particular. Living in a small town in western Md. there aren't any seafood options.
            I may have to mail order for Christmas gift to myself to make the clams at home.
            It was 2 months ago-but still day dreaming about it.

          2. moleche - tiny little softshelled crabs in Venice, fried, with a squeeze of lemon. divine.
            linguini cozze - at a little town in northern Italy
            my first goat cheese on mesclun salad in Paris
            fried trucha in La Paz, from Lake Titicaca
            Any of the several preparations I had of foie gras in Paris, but the best was one served seared with tiny little squares of gelled Juran├žon.
            MacDonald's fries - i loved them so much as a kid that i used to save their small paper bags, as "mementos".
            my first bite of ankimo.
            a tahitian vanilla milkshake shot, with a grassy olive oil slick on top, from Coi in San Francisco.
            anticuchos - grilled skewered beef heart - which i had regularly at a peruvian restaurant in L.A. as a child.
            a fantastic simple fresh fried egg i had for breakfast in Merida.
            my first bite of a juicy sweet/tart loquat, off a tree, when i was about 12.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mariacarmen

              Slow cooked whole lamb in Crete.
              Heirloom tomatoes with oil salt and pepper in Hawaii
              Rabbit sauteed in a white wine sauce in the south of France. Have never seen a similar prep here in ny.