I’ve been tagged for a meme. Now, before you worry that I should get my shots updated, let me explain that a meme is simply something that all the cool kids are doing, and being “tagged” for it means that I’ve been asked to join in. Sort of like, “If all your friends were jumping off a bridge, would you jump, too?” (In a word, Mom, yes.)
This particular meme was started by Melissa at The Traveler’s Lunchbox, though she designated it a “joint project,” rather than a meme. The idea is to “create a list of food bloggers’ top picks for things you’ve eaten and think that everyone should eat at least once before they die.” I was tagged by Ilva of Lucullian Delights (whose photos are so beautiful that they make me want to move to Italy and take photography lessons from her). Thanks for thinking of me, Ilva.
I had a hard time choosing only five foods that I think everyone should try. My mind went immediately to the simple: a ripe tomato still warm from the sun, figs and peaches and satsumas right off the tree–in short, the fresh food I grew up picking from my father’s garden. (Oh how surprised he’d be to hear that, given the amount of resistance I put up to doing any work in that garden!) But I looked at the other food bloggers’ lists and saw that these simple pleasures had mostly been covered, so I decided to go in a different direction and name for you the five dishes that I’m most happy to have discovered.
1. Tapenade: Though I first prepared tapenade for my wedding ten years ago, my attachment to this rich spread made of Kalamata olives and pinenuts isn’t sentimental. It’s just that good. Others agree with me–after the wedding, people kept requesting that I make and bring tapenade to every party we went to.
2. Ethiopian food: Go to the Adams Morgan district of Washington, D.C., and walk into just about any Ethiopian restaurant you come to. Order the vegetarian meal, and prepare yourself for a symphony of tastes that you’ll never forget. Have fun using injera, a spongy flatbread like no other, to pick up bites of food. And don’t forget to swing by and pick me up before you go because I will never turn down Ethiopian food.
3. Mussamun curry: When we lived in Columbia, South Carolina, my favorite take-out meal was from a Thai restaurant that made the best Mussamun curry with tofu. It was ridiculously fattening, full of coconut milk and peanuts, but it sent me on a lifelong search to find curry that good again. It can be found, but not in Jackson, Mississippi. At least not until I perfect the recipe.
4. Pesto: Pesto on pasta. Pesto on potatoes. Pesto on the end of a spoon. Peppery, garlicky, basily pesto, I’m so glad I found you!
5. Pralines: My father was the candy maker in my family (and the chief candy eater, too). He used to dedicate a whole Saturday afternoon to making pralines full of cream, butter, and pecans. I can make them, too, and even with vegan ingredients they’re rich and decadent and impossible to resist.
Well, that’s my list. I’ve just noticed that nothing on it is fat-free, but these are special occasion foods to try before you die–not to eat until you die. For daily eating, I suggest sticking to those simpler pleasures that I mentioned first. You’ll live longer!
Though I hate to pressure anyone into it, I’d love to hear what the following bloggers would add to the list: