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The Best Meal Ever

Friday, October 29, 2010

James Oseland, editor in chief of Saveur, and food writers Jane Stern and Michael Stern talk about the meals that have had the biggest influence on their lives. The October issue of Saveur is dedicated to the โ€œ25 Greatest Meals Ever,โ€ and it includes authors, chefs, and personalities describing the meals that made an impact on their lives.

What meal has had the biggest impact on your life? Tell us about the food, circumstances, company, or setting that made it so memorable!

Guests:

James Oseland, Jane Stern and Michael Stern

Comments [19]

Amy from Manhattan

3 stories:

On my 1st airplane flight (I was 4, I think), the dessert was cheesecake. I'd never had it before. I loved it, & that colored (or flavored!) my enjoyment of flying for years afterward.

Sometime in the late '70s, I went to the China Inn in DC w/friends, who highly recommended a dish called "Fish dipped in boiling water." It was cooked w/garlic, ginger, onions, & I don't remember what else, & it was sublime. I picked every scrap I possibly could off the bones. I had it there a few times afterward, & it didn't always attain the same sublimity; sometimes it was merely very good.

And in 1988, on my 1st trip to New Orleans, I ate at the famous Chez Helene's. For dessert, I ordered the pecan pie. I'd heard wonderful things about it, & it lived up to all of them. It was beyond sublime: it was celestial. It raised my standard so high that I actually didn't eat pecan pie again for a long time, because I knew it couldn't measure up to the one I'd had at the Chez.

Oct. 29 2010 01:25 PM
V from mid NJ

Most memorable meal?

A lunch at Ti Ruairi ["Rory's Pub"] on the Aran Islands in Ireland.

We'd ordered our meal -- and the waitress came back and said that they'd just brought in a newly caught salmon -- would we like some?

The color and texture unlike anything I've ever seen -- bright orange, like a naval orange. And broiled simply, with no butter or seasoning.

Amazing!

Oct. 29 2010 12:56 PM
sandra from nyc

My first Japanese meal was unforgettable.
Not knowing what that tiny green lump of clay was in the corner of the plate, I popped an entire spoon of Wasabi in my mouth. WOW!!!
I'll never forget my entire head and nose about to EXPLODE!!! It was dangerous and delicious all at once.
I still love Japanese food but have learned to spice my meal properly.

Oct. 29 2010 12:56 PM
Ann from Forest Hills

Tony from Brooklyn....

I AGREE completely - bravo to your comment. I feel the same way about film critics!

Oct. 29 2010 12:56 PM
Ken from Soho

Several references were made to "Wonder Bread". I feel that it's full name should be "It tastes like Kleenex - I wonder if it's really bread?"

Oct. 29 2010 12:55 PM
Kurt Richards from Long Island City, Queens

Two stories: When I was about 8 I went to the "good" local restaurant in the woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with my family. The first course was a perfectly ripe slice of honeydew melon drizzled with a bit of lime juice. When I tasted that I become another person - I suddenly realized why people could be obsessed with food. It was simple and perfect. The other story is also about "simple and perfect". I was in a small Etruscean town north of Rome and went to a small restaurant someone recommended. I ordered roast wild boar, which had been cooked over an open fire with rosemary and garlic and is the greatest single dish of my entire life. I have looking for something to match that for the last 25 years. The meal also ended with a dessert which I had at that time never heard of, so didn't know what to expect. It was tiramisu - but made with wild blueberries, not espresso. It was amazing.

Oct. 29 2010 12:53 PM
Wm.


Seriously-- Carolyn Fourchette? Her name means "fork". I think she's putting you on.

Oct. 29 2010 12:50 PM
David from NYC

A friend and I had built a brick grill in the back yard of the house in which I was living, in Ann Arbor. We'd scavenged bricks from a construction site, stolen the grill top from the municipal steel department, and purchased an oven door from an architectural remnants place in Grass Lake which we built into the front of the grill. Our inaugural meal included two whole legs of lamb, two chickens, a basket of vegetables, several steaks and sausages. We invite 50 people, and it was one of the first times I flirted with the woman who is now my wife. A wonderful meal.

Oct. 29 2010 12:47 PM
David from NYC

A friend and I had built a brick grill in the back yard of the house in which I was living, in Ann Arbor. We'd scavenged bricks from a construction site, stolen the grill top from the municipal steel department, and purchased an oven door from an architectural remnants place in Grass Lake which we built into the front of the grill. Our inaugural meal included two whole legs of lamb, two chickens, a basket of vegetables, several steaks and sausages. We invite 50 people, and it was one of the first times I flirted with the woman who is now my wife. A wonderful meal.

Oct. 29 2010 12:47 PM
Tasha from Atlanta, ga

I felt touched by the ham story as my 7th anniversary was a couple of weeks ago. My wedding night involved a similar meal with hamburgers and shrimp cocktail to complement the wine.

Oct. 29 2010 12:36 PM
Donna Miller-Small from Oceanside, NY

Age 8 on a family road trip we stopped at Howard Johnson's and I had my first vegetable plate.

Love your show Lennie!!!

Oct. 29 2010 12:34 PM
tony from brooklyn

this is why cooks consider critics to be one notch below child molestor. You are seriously saying that food cannot exist in a vacuum? That great ribs mean nothing if they aren't served in some charming old shack in the woods. What does that mean for people that dedicate their lives to the art and science of a culinary career. Food is subjective on some level but there is an objective difference between crap diner food and something that people work their ass off to produce.

Oct. 29 2010 12:33 PM
Gary from Port Washington

My best meal in the NY area would be Peter Kelly's Xaviars in Piermont. I had the tasting menu. I had the pleasure of meeting Peter at Restaurant X and he was delightful. My best wine pairing was at Le Bernardin Restaurant and my best affordable meal with the clam pizza at Pepe's in New Haven. Outside of NY: My favorite modern meal was at Mini Bar in Washington DC and the best setting was the Inn at Little Washington. In Europe, anything in France or Northern Italy and Beer in Belgium and Great Britain.

Oct. 29 2010 12:33 PM
Mary Ellen Meehan

Greatest meal moment was in the Europa Hotel St. Petersburg. Turning our armchairs in our room to look out the window at the twisted columns of the Church of the Holy Blood as snow glittered in the street lights while munching caviar and drinking champagne.

Oct. 29 2010 12:32 PM
Eric Johnson-DeBaufre from Madison, NJ

The meal that arguably made the biggest impression on me was one I had in a 1987 in a small village outside San Salvador. This was during El Salvador's civil war, and I was with a small group of other North Americans as part of a peace and justice delegation.

Although we had already eaten lunch before we arrived, several women brought plates of rice and beans and, to our surprise, a large omelet from inside the rough shacks in which they were living. Although it was very hot and we were quite full, we ate and enjoyed every bit of the food, especially after our translator informed us that they had used all of their eggs for the omelet.

One eats such a meal with a certain amount of awe and trembling at the preciousness of what is being offered. And whenever I've made this meal at home, I am instantly transported back to that village.

Oct. 29 2010 12:30 PM
Sheri from NYC

I was 10 years old (37 years ago) - taking my first long trip away from home - flying from Texas to visit family in NYC. I was flying on American Airlines with my grandmother. The flight included meal service - and I will never forget the Salisbury Steak with mashed potatoes and the German Chocolate Cake for dessert. I had never experienced either the Salisbury Steak or German Chocolate before - it was all surreal - the meal, the flight, ...traveling with my Grandmother....

Oct. 29 2010 12:27 PM
Colin A. Burns

Leonard, many years ago we dined together at Patron where Chef Jeff Zackarian was the chef at the time. Lynne Rossetto Kasper was at the event as well. I was there with my future wife. We were very much in love, both Lynne and you were exceedingly charming and informative. I recall that we ate a lovely risotto in a baked pumpkin. The meal was divine and remains a very fond memory and one of my Best 25 Ever. Cheers! Colin

Oct. 29 2010 12:25 PM
Adriana

I love, love, love this issue of Saveur! I think my favorite was the essay by Gabrielle Hamilton, but the whole issue was such a pleasure.

Oct. 29 2010 12:24 PM
Whitney from UWS

This is my parent's story, but I have to tell, it is so good.

They were having dinner at La Grenouille one night with two other couples. At the end of the end-less tasting menu dessert comes out and the men start talking about their favorite desserts ever. One says "rice custard" another says "creme caramel" and the other says "black forrest cake." However, they continued drooling over their wonderful desserts with the tasting menu. BUT as the coffee comes out, the waiter brings with him a rice custard, creme caramel, and black forest cake. The men all looked at their wives who were just as stunned as they were! The waiters had simply been wonderfully attentive.

Oct. 29 2010 12:22 PM

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