So I got this idea from Natalie at another perfume blog, who in turn got it from The French Exit.
I keep a diary, but it doesn’t usually occur to me to write thematic lists in it. I had a lot of fun remembering foods that tie into other important parts of my life. Enjoy!
1.) When I was about six, my mother took me to a really nice restaurant in Baltimore. It was candle-lit, but I remember it being so dark that I couldn’t see much. I ate fruit out of a wine glass. I don’t remember if the fruit cup was any better than other fruit cups, but it was the first food I ever remember eating. She was so proud of herself for bringing me there, and I remember her beaming.
2.) When I wasn’t much older than that, I had this food set called Dr. Dreadful. You could use assorted powders and gummy pieces to make candies from a container that looked like this:
Other girls had Easy Bake ovens, and I had that. I would invite a girl from the neighborhood to spend the night, and we would stay up making Dr. Dreadful candy. I remember thinking it was better than a lot of store-bought candy. A few weeks later my mother caught her stealing school supplies from my house. Fun times though, in retrospect.
3.) When I was a kid, my dad lived three hours away and he would drive to come pick me up in Baltimore to visit his house in Western MD on weekends. It’s a common trucker route, and I remember we would stop at a truck stop called Truck City. I would get a grilled cheese sandwich every time. Then we would go get a fortune card for me from this machine that had a big, really well-crafted wizard in it. It was the same routine for years. When Truck City closed, it broke my heart.
(*We passed Sideling Hill on the drive to Western MD.)
4.) I went to the Silver Diner in Baltimore for my seventeenth birthday. The servers came out and clapped and sang Happy Birthday to me. I was embarrassed and proud at the same time. I liked the Silver Diner because everything about it was big. The spaghetti was almost as thick as my pinky finger, and you got an inordinate amount of soft butter spooned onto the side so you could put it on. They didn’t hold the cheese either.
5.) I remember a few great dates when I treated my boyfriend to dinner in my senior year of high school. The first time we went to a fancy Spanish place in DC that was top-ranked in The Washington Post and I loved it, but he didn’t like the snob vibe. The second time he picked a smaller place with a college vibe and finger food. It’s called La Tasca. From this, I learned that different people value different things in culture, and that you can make yourself happier by making someone else happy doing what they like.
6.) During college, I used to sit at the coffee shop for hours doing my homework. Not terribly original, I know, but if you’d gone to The Lost Dog you’d understand the appeal. I don’t think Shepherdstown, WV is ever going to have a Starbucks because the people would revolt. They make really original drinks. For about a year I’d order a “lattea,” a tea made with milk or soymilk. I chose a white tea called Jasmine Silver Needle. Then I’d order an avocado shake with honey and cinnamon. I remember reading the notebooks they had for people to draw in, and people would write on the walls in the bathroom.
I hope the Lost Dog always looks just like this:
7.) My roommate and I used to go to a dive called Tony’s and order slices of mediocre pizza at any time from noon to 3 AM. I’d eat the pizza and then stick the crust into their excellent Parmesan (why was it so good, I wonder?). The memorable thing about Tony’s is that I went there so many times. It was the primary convening place for pretty much everyone, for the whole time I was in town.
8.) The first thing I learned to cook well is a stir-fry dish made with white rice, red peppers, and garlic. I cooked the rice al dente and the vegetables so that they were still crisp, but permeable, and then fried all ingredients in a pan with apple cider vinegar. It’s pretty easy to make if you do the prep work. When my friends and I went to Raleigh on Spring Break, I made this dish and substituted the leftover (crap) beer for the apple cider vinegar. It was a hit, even though the leftover rice took about half an hour to remove from the sink drain.
9.) There’s a place in Manhattan’s East Village called Sarita’s Mac and Cheese that is phenomenal. I used to eat there a lot when I took classes at NYU. There are other macaroni and cheese places, but Sarita’s is so organized and has such varied options (they offer macaroni and cheese based on European countries as well as different American fare such as Cajun) that it can’t really be related to anything else. You can get breadcrumbs on top, almost any cheese in any quantity, and right out of the pan. It’s good enough to make you cry if you’re the crying type.
Doesn’t this look phenomenal?
(*NYU student housing blogs)
10.) Every time I go to the beach, I get Boardwalk Fries. They’re thick and brown and I slather them in vinegar and salt. But I prefer sugar if it’s an option. Then I get cheesy sauce. I think Boardwalk Fries are evocative for everybody, but thinking about them is such an easy way to make myself happy.
11.) I also used to go to this place called Bubblecup in Missouri (I wrote a review of Lollicup, the company that supplied it) to study. That milk tea is tremendously fattening, but I got a lot of joy out of the atmosphere. Bubble tea may be the most unabashedly femmey pleasure I have besides perfume.
(P.S.: When you look up “memories” on Google Images, most of the images are resoundingly sad. I picked the one above from bazsii8 on deviantart because it’s hopeful, but still bittersweet and distant. It raises the memories to lofty heights while still acknowledging that they’re gone.)