By MARK GRAY
This past week my wife and I saw the newly-release motion picture “The 100-Foot Journey”, a film dealing with the European passion for well-prepared food and the importance of dining in some cultures. Over two years ago, she and I wrote about our differences on food, and the movie did nothing but showcase our opinions.
My wife often compares food to fuel Р just as many Utahns do. (Otherwise, there is no excuse for why so many people eat dinner or lunch at a chain fast-food restaurant.) In contrast, I see a meal as an event to be savored.
It is easy for me to unwind from the workday and relax while leisurely dining on a grilled swordfish fillet (blacken it please!), accompanied by a rice pilaf, asparagus spears, a Caesars salad Р and occasionally an apple tarte tatin with a scoop of honey ice cream. Call me an elitist, but a meal like that is a reward.
My wife calls this “big food”; I just call it scrumptious and inviting. I have already gone to the gym (or at least thought about it). I am not entering a fine restaurant to count calories.
Since it takes a fair amount of time to prepare such a dinner, restaurants are a better (though more costly) option than the home kitchen. My wife works full-time and doesn’t have the hours to shop markets daily for fresh produce or ensure we have an adequate supply of capers, sea salt, or cumin.
In the “100-Foot Journey”, a character comments that meals are memories. Sorry, but warmed up pizza, a Chick-Fil-A combo or a home-prepared meal of Kraft mac and cheese doesn’t fit my definition of memorable. That’s why my favorite item for dinner is a “reservation”.
By DAWN BRANDVOLD-GRAY
Try living with a food snob. It is a challenge, a delicious one, but a challenge nonetheless. Every evening while I try to coral him into a simple home-cooked meal or even a quick stop for a sandwich, it is akin to convincing an uncooperative toddler that vegetables are good for him.
Like most people, I have my favorite meals, but I don’t base my happiness on the freshness of the fish or the silkiness of the sauce. Pretty much, I’m happy if someone does the cooking and takes the dirty dishes away at the end.
Some people like to brag about where they dine and sneer at those they consider less discerning. The other morning I met a cousin for breakfast. She is from rural Utah and doesn’t come to the big city much. We were joined by her daughter’s boyfriend, a young man seemingly more concerned with style than substance. He rolled his eyes at the mention of any restaurant that didn’t meet his high standards and berated her when she mentioned that she enjoyed the Olive Garden.
Sadly, I think he missed the point. Food is only as good as the company you enjoy while dining. Some of my favorite memories are eating homemade tuna sandwiches at lunch with my mom. I can get teary thinking about my dad’s hamburgers, prepared in a frying pan in our own kitchen Р the only seasoning was salt, pepper, and love.
I understand the love of creative and exquisite cuisine, but it’s not how I unwind at the end of the day nor does it bring unparalleled joy. The majority of the time meals are just fuel and something convenient is all that is necessary for my happiness.
Give me a table surrounded by the faces of those I love, some good conversation, and enough to satisfy our hunger and that is the best meal of all.