Some people think that the most unbelievable dining experience comes from a Michelin-starred restaurant or a place where you have to call immediately upon opening and three months in advance to reserve a table or an establishment where an entire day's/week's/month's salary is dropped for a single seating. I am NOT of this opinion. In fact, my most memorable eating experiences have by and large occurred without much fanfare, on crowded sidewalks or unadorned strip malls. These moments have caught me by surprise, sideswiping me with unexpected depths of flavor, tenderness, sweetness or heat.
I recall my first taste of Tom Yum Kung (a red, smoldering pot of sour and spicy Thai soup)--the real stuff that seemingly can only be found in Thailand. It must have been in Sukhothai, the former capital, but now mostly a historic postcard, a place for the most part untrampled upon by foreign soles aside from the mostly well-intentioned missionary. My first sip of real Tom Yum Kung was intoxicating with the sour tartness of lime juice, the fiery spice of Thai peppers, the rich, fragrant and even sometimes subtle textures of lemongrass and galanga, all soaking into the meaty flesh of the luscious, head-on shrimp. And as unlikely as anything, my favorite bowl of Tom Yum Kung came to me one day unheralded and unexpected at Black Canyon Coffee, and my mind fluttered as I stared blankly onto the crush of human, automobile and sky train traffic near Saladaeng BTS station.
I recall McDonald's (of all places!!!) in Honolulu, Hawaii with a menu boasting of their Local Deluxe Breakfast platter. I remember the surprise on my face when the slightly salted rice mixed in an amazing marriage with scrambled eggs, Portuguese sausage and SPAM. I dream about that breakfast sometimes, along with jok (rice porridge usually with pork meatballs and heavy in ginger) from a simple guesthouse in Thailand, hot soy bean milk and fried dough from a greasy-spoon in Taipei, Taiwan, or an everything bagel with lox, red onions and cream cheese in Manhattan.
Over the course of the next eight months, I'm planning on reflecting upon the 22 most indescribably brilliant (though I will try to describe them) eating moments that my fiance and I have had the privilege of sharing. These 22 rapturous events will make up the table themes at our wedding. Let me tell you in advance--we do LOVE eating... probably as much as we love each other. And we (by we, I mostly mean she) also love great deals.
Feel free to agree, disagree or even add your own a-ha moments. There's still time for us to make edits. ;)
Btw, I may throw in a post or two (or three...) about some of the places that I've been to on my own over the years. And if I try something new that just absolutely demands attention, I may be forced to post about that, as well. For example, Jocko's in Nipomo, CA DEMANDS me to act. Some good things just can't be contained.