Silverback Eamon (Rose City Silverbacks) recently submitted a story that described the best meal of his life. The story was so evocative that it made me ask myself “What was the best meal of my life?” This, in turn, made me think “I bet other Silverbacks have had culinary experiences that they would like to share with others.”
So that’s it … an invitation, a provocation, a challenge to share with other denizens of The Jungle your recollection of the one meal that has set the standard for all other repasts. Make it short, make it eloquent, make it simple, make it serious, make it funny, make it straightforward … just make it yours! Send as an email or email attachment as some kind of Word document. Don’t worry about visuals. Great, if you have them, otherwise I will find something appropriate.
I, along with Silver-backs, belle, bucks, babes, and bambinos, salivate with anticipation.
The Best Meal of My Life …
Sesame-encrusted Tuna, with three different types of caviar, with a soy-based dipping sauce, haricots vert, pickles and Wasabi. Served in a tiny, hole-in-the-wall restaurant adjacent to the train station in Porto, Portugal. It didn’t hurt that our waitress was beautiful and the meal cost about $12, including wine, of course.
Tell us about the best meal of your life!
And here, without further adieu, is Silverback Eamon’s submission:
The Promise of Tomorrow
The story of two meals in Portland Oregon
by Silverback Eamon (Rose City SBs)
I want to tell you about the best meal I had this week. Don’t get me wrong the second best was good too. The second best was for our 26th wedding anniversary. It was a classic Portland food scene. Montelupo. A tiny Italian storefront that sells craft foods from in-house and from the Mother country. Homemade pastas, artisan olive oils a knee buckling chocolate budino mousse topped with salted caramel. Dreamy, transportational stuff … you get the idea.
Funny how through all the wreckage of covid, the blight also brings us the odd
gift. Montelupo was much too small to be a restaurant, but since the city shut down side streets so that business can operate outside, this Italian grocery store was able to have a few tables and serve dinner.
It quietly became the best restaurant in the city.
So there we were. Eating al fresco under the swaying elms as the slanting sun ran through the bubbles of our prosecco. We had a cloud of bright white burrata ringed with near fluorescent stone fruit, cherry tomatoes and basil in a pine nut vinaigrette. We had crostini with a creamy red romesco, biting slivered anchovies, herbs and radish– served with bitter radicchio. We had pappardelle with boar in red wine and stracciatella di bufala. We also had a goat cheese gnocchi with sweet corn, shallots, basil and frico. Frico because you know, only six different cheeses would be enough.
Let me close this reverie with what we opened with and which flowed liberally into each dish–the olive oil. The olive oil was of the earth, of spice and of hot dry grass. It grabbed me by the hand and pulled me down through the centuries and suddenly I was eating with Hadrian, Dante, Caravaggio and Carlo Levi. And of course my lovely wife.
But that was the second best meal I had this week.
By trade I am a carpenter and I’m currently turning a garage into what seems to be a playhouse or a fort. The woman I’m working for wants to have a glass door so she can watch the rain and paint and goof around. She wants a disco ball installed.
So there we were. Me and the Mexican framers. Jose, Francisco and Noe. We had pulled the old roof off so there was no shade and we had been working in the hot August sun. Finally it was time for lunch. I found a place on a stack of 2×12 Doug fir roof joists. Franscico got the microwave out of Jose’s black F150. Noe took a couple of plastic bowls of food out of a cooler. Jose couldn’t be sure if the comida was made by his wife or his mother-in-law who lives next door.
I didn’t plan to be there so I had no food, again. They insisted that I eat. Insisted, as in no choice.
Jose put the bowl in the mic. and the tortillas too.
After a couple of minutes they pulled out a meat dish steaming hot. The instant the fragrance of the smoked chiles hit I knew I was in the best Mexican restaurant in Portland.
I took my white plastic spoon and dug into the dish. Some kind of pulling apart beef that had been marinating in some kind of otherworldly red adobo sauce. Then a dab of bright green cilantro onion salsa.
That’s it. Nothing more.
It must have been the simplicity of it all. The heat, the meat, the steam off the soft messa enfolding. Four or five ingredients combine to make not one taste, but a song. A poem. An architectural marvel where every element and texture depends on the other and builds the other until it soars. Towers.
After only one bite I knew that I would never forget that single moment in my life.
So we talked as we rested there and ate. Jose told me about his horses and how he trains them to dance for local parades. About his daughter’s quinceanera. He made another round of tacos as he talked.
At some point I noticed he was heating the tortillas in a microwave–inside a cheap plastic bag.
I said out of concern, “I’m not sure you’re supposed to put plastic like that in the microwave.”
He said, “Why?”
I said, not really knowing, but knowing all the same, “Because it’s unhealthy.”
To this Francisco, a funny sunny man who jokes more than he talks, took his straw hat off and whacked it across his knee as he laughed me off
“It no problem amigo. We’re all dying!
I let it go.
I let it go with gusto.
What he seemed to be saying, or was saying was, Hey kid, have you TASTED these tacos? Don’t pass the sure thing of this moment, for the promise of tomorrow.