When Martin’s daughter was little, we used to have a tradition at the dinner table called, “Highs and Lows”. It was about the moments in your day that stuck out on either end of the scale, and it was mostly really about quality time and knowing what mattered. One of the interesting things we learned was that often the low moments were just as important as the high ones.
I think that is true with meals too. You can have a simple, “lowly” meal of say, tuna casserole, but it could hold some of your favourite memories and as such, be an important dish in your life. You can have a spectacular meal in a fancy restaurant and it can be a knock-out memory too, of course. Both make up the threads that weave the fabric of our lives. I could drive that home by saying we should all be grateful for every meal, living where we do, but that’s the obvious part of this puzzle. The less apparent part is that we make the memories just like we make the meals. We shape the experience by how we prepare to enjoy it.
I am as much a geek about the presentation of food as the ingredients themselves. I love all the permutations of table decoration, from a simple picnic blanket with a cutting board and napkins to a groaning table with sparkling glassware, candles, flowers and linens. Now that we can readily share ideas online, my Pinterest page is getting loaded with things I want to try!
Now that things have warmed up, BBQ season has started, and so has grilling season. In our house, these are two distinct activities, with BBQ being a definite carnivorous adventure. This is the art of cooking meat "low and slow" over indirect heat, usually wood. It's not for the faint of heart; when in doubt, these guys don’t garnish a dish with parsley, they wrap it in bacon. It is not fancy, but so very down-to-earth, it’s pretty hard not to love. Potato salad or coleslaw will be the vegetables, and likely everything will be piled together on a bun. But it’s made with love, so how can it not be just as spectacular as a multi-course dinner in a white tablecloth restaurant? It’s true to itself. (If this is more your style, you can follow Martin on Pinterest ).
I read about a restaurant in Chicago that asks you to pay in advance, and only accepts parties of 2 or 4 in the dining room, so as not to spoil the ambience. The menu is a set affair, with the chef taking his inspiration from a master of cuisine from the early 1900’s, Escoffier. It is elegant, and restricted (people compete to get the tables – they don’t take phone reservations). I am sure it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience; the reviewer said, “Think of it as the culinary equivalent of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”. Right there I knew that I was right in thinking about a balance of highs and lows in my gastronomic undertakings. You need a bit of both to have the perspective to appreciate it all.
Whatever your style, here's to enjoying the experience. Cheers!