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Bad food, great night, how can that be?

June 6, 2009

Sometimes I am reminded that one of the reasons for eating out is to use the table in a restaurant as a vehicle to bring people together. There is an exchange that takes place over a meal that is always unique. My children Isabella and Sebastian were excited at my announcement that is was our night out and I was taking them to a movie and for something to eat before. It is a weeknight but they are almost done with school and have no homework. Life is good. The food was awful but we had a great time together laughing and talking. That is what we will remember (as soon as the horrible aftertaste of the food fades). I try to always remember the value of that interaction and that is how every meal can be a great meal.

What makes food taste great? Balance. When the first bite has no flavor that is not good but it can be just as bad when the first bite has too much flavor. If the first bite is too strong (truffles or truffle oil is a common offender) then by the third or fourth bite the flavor builds and overwhelms you. I love it when the first bite says “I have something good for you. Stay focused.” I can taste an herb or a spice but I am not sure what it is so I am anxious to take the next bite. The flavor is building and my palate is firing messages to my mental rolodex of flavors and then BINGO, I identify the flavor. On the next bite it becomes more obvious as it builds. There is a harmonious balance between fat, salt and acid that allows the flavors of the dish to take center state. The portion is just big enough so I feel comfortable and my mouth is now full of all the flavors the chef intended but I am left wanting more. In between bites there is great conversation, great laughs or just an enjoyable stare into my wife’s eyes. That is the art of great cooking and the pleasure of great eating.

As long as I am having a great time with my kids, my wife or some friends I can look past a bad meal. The table still served its purpose.

Eat well, enjoy life, be happy.

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