Mary Carter
Many memorable meals

Funny, I remember so many memorable meals. I rarely take food for granted.  Individual meals are as much of the total ambiance of memorable events that I can conjure them up at the same time as I recall both pleasant and unpleasant experiences in my life.

The eggy, buttery taste of croissants in Paris; a not particularly original memory, but the sound of the church bell tolling in our hotel's arrondissment travels right along with that very Parisienne breakfast.

Steak Friday in college. Scarfing down rare, thin, gristly steak in the big noisy dining hall; smothering my steak with sumptuous A-1 Sauce, girding myself for dates or, more likely, for gin rummy with the girls. Tea with the artist, a meal I cannot remember at all except for the scent of lilacs and the huge bundle of lilacs that the artist's wife gave me to take home and how I always wanted lilacs and how I now have lots of them which I pick extravagantly to place in my painting studio.

Eating pink frosting roses off the tops of all my birthday cakes. My mama's fudge at Christmas; good, sugary post-war fudge made with light corn syrup and Hershey's cooking chocolate. Making rum balls at Christmas and eating the dough and getting very, very drunk with my mother in the kitchen and my father arriving home from work hassled and grumpy. Almost every stuffed turkey of my lifetime; not the meat, but the hot, wet, sage-y dressing.

A certain pork pie which I cooked for my first husband, spiced with cinnamon, of all things. It was as good eaten cold as it was hot from the oven. Unlike the marriage. Stuffed zucchini, hippy-style, which was about the first of the thousands of meals I have cooked for Gary. Washing it down with red wine.

Gary spilling the salad—the entire stainless steel bowl of greens, avocado slices, tomato wedges and plenty of vinaigrette—onto the carpet the night we had our friend Joel over for chicken breasts in port sauce. The fragrant, heavy, lovely yellow curry sauce I made for steamed summer vegetables and the very hot evening about fifteen years ago when we had it; with the sun shining into our dining room and our kitty sleeping on a chair next to us, we pinched bits of coconut and raisins onto the rice and washed it down with a sweet white wine.

Brownies, hot from the oven, stoned in 1968. A sad bowl of fruit in August of that horrible year.

Short ribs, greasy and shocking and delicious as I think back on them, swimming in a ketchup sauce. Spare ribs marinated in soy and crushed pineapple, impossible to remove from your fingernails. A Dolores burger, dripping with its white mayonnaise sauce.

Nesbits Orange. The Healms truck tooting through our neighborhood and all us little kids with our quarters swarming around the big wooden drawers and buying lemon jelly donuts and the jelly dripping down our skinny dirty arms. Fudgsicles.

A whole bag of vinegar potato chips the night of the power-failure this Winter. A short stack of buttermilk pancakes back when I was "single"; my then-idea of a balanced diet for the working girl. The chili dog at the Hot Dog Show in Woodland Hills with my friend Cathy and her parents.

My Grandma's Gold Coin soup, a milky concoction with thin slices of carrot served up warm and made expressly to tempt a feverish, cranky, sick child.  This was generally accompanied by a log cabin built from sticks of toasted white bread. White cake with pink frosting that was served to us in elementary school for a daily mid-morning event which the schools I went to in the fifties called "nutrition".

Silly food; burning the inside of my lower lip on that hot little devil's fork we used for fondue parties. Comfort food; eating meatloaf and mashed potatoes with Gary when we thought our business was going under. Friday's fare; pizza, delivered, and a video.

Mary E. Carter, ,

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