Raised on a diet of meat and potatoes mixed with lots of ridiculously unhealthy Jewish food, I ate and loved it all. Then, when I moved to California and discovered the world of fruits and vegetables, my taste buds moved to another level. I began to enjoy foods that I had never even seen before, like persimmons, avocados, and all kinds of edibles that now, decades later, I take for granted.
As the place I call home evolved into a gourmet ghetto, my interest in food developed. I took cooking classes and played around with all kinds of concoctions. Once in a while I’d splurge and go to a highly recommended, high-priced restaurant. Although these outings were wonderful, I realized that my favorite meals were usually homemade, prepared with great care, yet very simple.
One memorable meal was the comforting bowl of soup that my husband made one night when I was sick. That warm mixture of lemon, eggs and rice almost made me feel better instantly. And, I’ll always remember the tuna salad sandwich that a friend once fixed for a trip. I still salivate when I think of all the flavor and TLC that Jeff put into that little care package. Then, there was the local Italian deli I frequented as a teenager. No matter what my day was like, a simple slice of Nick’s pizza always made me happy.
I’ve been blessed with lots of simple food made with love. My all-time favorite meal, however, wasn’t made by anyone I know. Still, I certainly felt all the goodness and thought that went into it.
In the summer of 1972, I was staying at a charming little place not far from Notre Dame in Paris. One morning, I leisurely wandered out, down the cobblestones, around the corner to a small neighborhood bakery. I bought a cup of coffee and a baguette, and took my petite dejeuner to one of the tables outside. As I took in the magnificent view of the cathedral, I tore off some of the bread, put it in my mouth, and followed it with a sip of the dark, warm brew. I stopped and stared at what I was eating – it smelled divine, but I had no idea that the baguette would melt in my mouth like a perfected filet mignon, and the coffee would taste like nectar from the gods. I finished off the entire loaf with another coffee, savoring all the rich lusciousness that was floating in my mouth. The smells of the bakery, the warmth of the air, and the sounds and sights of Paris all around me enhanced everything. I was in heaven.
I haven’t been in Paris since, but I hope to go back. I’d love to wander aimlessly, looking for that special bakery, or perhaps another, where I’ll savor the simplest of lovingly made meals, and another few precious moments of complete and total bliss.
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