Best meal ever

May 7, 2008

Last night, like most nights, I made my son dinner. At 11, he’s one of the most active people I know. He cycles to school and plays outdoors after school doing all the stuff that marks a suburban childhood: skateboarding, shooting hoops and chasing friends around playing tag.

I’d eaten my fill at the test kitchen during the day so I threw something quick together for Oliver: a three egg omelet with ham, cheddar and red onion, a green salad and some leftover boiled new potatoes that I seasoned with lots of sea salt and pepper and pan-fried. It took about 5 minutes to make this meal.

O came to the table and gobbled the entire meal down with few pauses for sips of water or conversation. After he finished his plate of food he professed this dinner one of the best meals I’d ever prepared. I laughed, since really, this was hardly cooking on a grand scale. But he insisted that he had never eaten anything as delicious. In fact, he requested that I make a duplicate omelet for breakfast today (I obliged, by the way).

His exuberance reminded me how long it has been since I was truly hungry from an active day outdoors. Usually when I’m very hungry it’s because it has just been a long time between meals; that kind of hunger, although urgent, is different from activity-based hunger. It tends to make me bitchy and picky. Activity based hunger is more open and accepting. It’s grateful for any effort at all.

My mom made (and still does make) the best mashed potatoes ever. They are fluffy and light, salted and buttered perfectly. They’re the perfect little starchy cloud to cradle dark, beefy, homemade gravy. Although I still love and crave them, they never tasted as good as when I came in from running around the neighbourhood to find them waiting for me.

Do you remember how great food tasted when you were a kid? What did you love to find on your family’s dinner table?