While listening to the May 8th episode of The Daily, a podcast produced by The New York Times, Rick Steves, of Rick Steves Europe, was interviewed by Sam Anderson, a staff writer for the New York Times Magazine. The episode gave me hope and the ending provided me with a writing prompt.
Sam ended the podcast with these words, “As a favor to everyone stuck at home right now, can you transport us for a few minutes. Bring us to one particular place in Europe and guide us through a perfect meal?”
Rick agreed and elaborated by saying such a story would be a perfect storm of: ambiance, local ingredients, an appetite and good company.
This got me thinking….
Long ago, my husband and I took our two school-age girls to Chincoteague, an inexpensive beach vacation town on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
My favorite meal while there was purchased from the honor code vegetable stand. With my five dollar bill in hand, I walked down to the end of the street where we were renting a house for the week. There on the side of the road, a townie had two picnic tables sitting. One was covered with a large pile of corn husks and a sign, $.50 each. The other had rows of tomatoes, $.25 each and baskets of peaches $2/basket. In between the two tables was a wooden box with a slit on top and the words “On Your Honor” painted on the side. I slipped in my $5, grabbed 4 corn husks, 2 tomatoes and a basket of peaches and walked back to the rental house.
As Brian and the girls took an afternoon nap, I boiled the corn and added a few hot dogs for the girls. I placed all in a cooler, with a few cold beers and juice boxes. Then I hopped into the car and drove to the seafood market. With 2 pounds of seasoned steamed shrimp in hand, I headed back to awake my family for dinner.
Soon we piled back in the car with the cooler in the truck and headed to the beach. We spread out our blanket, sat and enjoyed our dinner as the sun went down. I sipped my cold beer, I peeled my steamed shrimp. I took a bite of the fresh corn and sliced tomatoes. I enjoyed the juicy peach as dessert.
In Rick Steves words, it was a perfect storm.
The ambiance of the waves crashing and the sky turning to shades of both pink and light blues.
The ingredients, just days ago, were still on a vine or a tree or in the ocean we stare at now from our blanket.
Our appetite, large after a busy day of riding the waves and building castle creations in the sand.
And the company, a relaxed husband and two girls, though three years apart, enjoying each others company as friends.
During the podcast, Rick Steves states, “It (the virus) cannot stop our travel dreams.” I would add, it cannot stop me returning to places once visited and reliving, in my mind, a perfect meal.
How about you? Where will you travel? What’s your perfect meal?