Avocado. My favorite sandwich is an avocado sandwich. Simple—a roll, lettuce, avocado, and mayonnaise. Pure delight. On the flip side, pure fear. I once cut the palm of my hand as I attempted to slice and de-pit an avocado.
Banana split. The first time I ever indulged in this ice cream treat was during our trip to Paris. In an Italian restaurant. There is nothing about that sentence that makes sense, except the certainty that unexpected, unplanned things happen. We knew where we were staying, knew what we wanted to do each day in the City of Light, but we had no idea where we wanted to eat. So, we ate at the restaurant down the street from our hotel. An Italian restaurant with comfortable food, a friendly restaurateur, and a banana split that was served lit up with sparklers.
Chocolate chip cookies. After the birth of my son, I was in a waiting game—waiting to see how my body would heal from the trauma of childbirth, waiting to see if I would need a blood transfusion. In direct opposition to my agony, was my complete joy—joy spent marveling at the awe that is my son. Enjoyment found in the mid-afternoon delivery of my snack: two warm and gooey chocolate chip cookies.
Dark chocolate. Dark chocolate by itself. Dark chocolate covered raisins, almonds, macadamia nuts, or pretzels. A staple in my pantry, in one form or another.
Eggs Benedict. My absolute favorite breakfast meal. Difficult to make myself and expensive to enjoy while dining out. But on a road trip along the California coast, we ventured along Highway 1, in awe and in fear of the twists and turns. We ate at a restaurant that offered us terrific views of the Pacific Ocean and exquisite eggs Benedict.
Filet mignon. Although not a vegetarian, I am not a steak eater. Except this particular steak, cooked at my favorite restaurant in Laguna Beach. It is a steak that is soft and smooth like butter that seems to melt in my mouth.
Graham crackers. My sister and I took swimming lessons and after kicking and splashing and blowing bubbles in the water for an hour, our instructors gave us graham crackers as a snack. To this day, when I eat a graham cracker (which isn’t often), I can still smell the chlorine.
Hula pie. On our honeymoon in Maui, we received a recommendation for a certain restaurant. This eatery featured a dessert known as “Hula Pie”—some chocolate/ice cream concoction that I can’t remember fully. I do remember taking the left-overs to go—back to our hotel room where my groom and I attempted to eat the leftovers with our bare hands.
Ice cream. Square scoops of chocolate from Thrifty’s Drugstore. Two-scoop sundaes from Baskin Robbins. Eaten at home while watching a movie—chocolate ice cream with chopped up bananas, chocolate chips, and chocolate syrup. And now, the enjoyment takes on a new level, as I share bowls of ice cream with my son.
Jelly beans. My husband ate them during the labor and delivery of our son. During our childbirth classes, fathers and coaches were advised to snack during the birthing process to lessen the risk of them becoming faint and light-headed during the time us mommies would need them most. However, let’s be honest, ladies are doing all the work. All the support and encouragement and reminders to breathe don’t actually compare to the process of “pushing something the size of a watermelon out of an opening the size of a lemon” (to borrow a quote from Look Who’s Talking). And so, between contractions, my husband snacked on his jelly beans.
Ketchup. Ketchup on my french fries, on my hamburger, on my hot dog. Cold, leftover Thanksgiving turkey dipped in ketchup. Leftover meatloaf, unheated, and dipped in ketchup. All this for a girl who doesn’t eat tomatoes.
Lox. Bagels, lox, and cream cheese. One of my mom’s special breakfasts. Maybe it’s just me, but the whole combination never tastes as good as when I order the meal from our local bagel shop. Dollops of cream cheese. Thick slices of lox. A toasted bagel. It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.
Mocha. Cafe mocha. My first coffeehouse drink. I was so intrigued by cappuccino and espresso; yet as a just-out-of-high-school student I had no idea what any of them were. Cafe mocha was the coffee drink for me. Chocolate. Whip cream. Not too strong. And years later, the drink I would enjoy on the first date with the man who would become my husband.
Nutella crepe eaten in Jardin des Tuileries in Paris. My first trip to Paris had a few requirements. See the Eiffel Tower and ride up (we made it to the second level). See the Mona Lisa. Sail along the Seine. Eat a crepe in Paris.
Orange juice for a brisk, healthy start to the day. A mimosa for a celebratory start to the day. I enjoyed my first mimosa while dining with my parents at a ’50s-style diner. Although I love the idea of them, mimosa consumption has been few and far between. They just don’t fit with my 5 a.m. morning wake-ups.
Pizza. More specifically, pizza topped with avocado. My husband and I had taken the train to Santa Barbara for the day. We didn’t own a car at the time but were eager to venture out of Los Angeles. Everything went as planned until it was time to come home. There was a problem with the Amtrak train farther north that was causing hours’ worth of delay further south. We were stranded at the train station, waiting for a train whose arrival time was unknown. We wound up ordering pizza from a nearby restaurant and eating it in the train station. However, because we were in Santa Barbara, this particular pizzeria offered an avocado topping.
Quesadillas. To celebrate Cinco de Mayo in my classroom, I bring in my electric grill and prepare cheese quesadillas for my students. Some students are skeptical, having never tasted a quesadilla before. Some students are critical, complaining about the lack of salsa or guacamole. Some students are quite impressed and compliment my good cooking.
Rice with melted cheese. My mom made this dish for us. And although I don’t know if this is accurate, I remember eating it more often on cold, rainy days. Instant rice sitting on the stove, cheese placed on top, melted throughout. A sprinkling of pepper. It seems simple enough, yet whenever I try, my rice with melted cheese does not taste as good as my mom’s.
“Scallops and chips.” That’s what the menu said, in addition to the more traditional “fish and chips.” Lightly breaded and fried, decadent scallops. Found at a pier-front restaurant in Avila Beach, along the central coast of California. An eatery over the ocean with glass-bottom tables so we could watch the show below.
Tostada. In seventh grade, I prepared tostadas for my family’s dinner as part of my homework for my health class. It was relatively simple, everyone ate it, and I was able to incorporate a member from each of the main food groups. Many years later, I would once again cook tostadas in my mom’s kitchen, although this time, eating with my family was the man who would one day become my husband.
Upside-down cake. I’ve never prepared an upside-down cake. I’ve eaten cake right-side-up, upside-down, and on-it’s-side. Cake is cake, and it’s all going in the same place.
Vanilla ice cream. Not my favorite and never my first choice for ice cream. However, there’s something about a soft-serve ice cream cone from McDonald’s that breaks that rule. That is one ice cream cone I will order and enjoy.
Whoppers. The first meal in our first apartment, eaten cross-legged on the floor. I can still see my husband, grinning and wearing a white T-shirt.
Xigua, the Chinese name for watermelon. Watermelon-flavored candies. Watermelon slices that tell me summer is here. And watermelon juice that my son enjoys at the farmers’ market.
Yolk. When I eat a hard-boiled egg, I don’t eat the yolk. When I go out for breakfast, I order my eggs over-easy and enjoy using my toast to sop up the broken yolk from the plate.
Zucchini, fried and battered, and then dipped in ranch dressing. Enjoyed at a fast food restaurant. A meal that was most memorable because of the friend I enjoyed it with.