25 Greatest Meals Ever

Twenty-Five Great Meals

We all have one. Maybe it was the first taste of grilled kebabs from a busy street vendor in Istanbul that opened our eyes to the flavor and culture of that city. Or maybe it was something more familiar: a roast beef sandwich that someone special made for us when we were young, or a plate of fried fish we once shared with a good friend. It could be the eureka moment we had at the Michelin-starred restaurant in France or at the local Chinese takeout, or it could just be the refried beans that were always on the family table. The meals recounted here are more than mere experiences; they're symbols of who we are. No matter where they took place or what dishes were served, whether they occurred in a time of war or peace, of scarcity or plenty, they connect us. They remind us of the power of food, the comfort of memory, and the simple fact that every meal we sit down to has the potential for greatness. --The Editors

Mushroom Cappuccino (Bouillon de Champignons Comme un Cappuccino)
Mushroom Cappuccino (Bouillon de Champignons Comme un Cappuccino)

Michelin three-star chef Alain Chapel wowed author Gael Greene with this innovative “cappuccino”, a rich, earthy soup made with mushrooms. To foam the broth, use the steamer attachment on a cappuccino machine, or froth it in a blender. Get the recipe for Mushroom Cappuccino (Bouillon de Champignons Comme un Cappuccino) »

Roasted Lamb Shoulder and Vegetables (Saneeyeh Bil Fern)
Roasted Lamb Shoulder and Vegetables (Saneeyeh Bil Fern)

This dish calls for slow-roasting lamb over okra, green beans, and eggplant until the lamb is tender and the vegetables have absorbed some of its juices. Get the recipe for Roasted Lamb Shoulder and Vegetables (Saneeyeh Bil Fern)

red wine
Karen Shimizu

“My mother and I sat at a long table under a persimmon tree in Sighnaghi, a village in the Republic of Georgia.”
Read Karen Shimizu’s essay, “Lifted Spirits”

“The selling of seashells by the seashore is a famous profession, though generally not a lucrative one.” Read Lolis Eric Elie’s essay, “Young and Hungry”

“No lunches or dinners in my life have been more memorable than sandwiches with my uncle Ray Mock, when I was a boy.” Read Dean Koontz’s essay, “Lunch Lessons”

Tom Yum Goong

Fragrant with lime juice and lemongrass, this hot and sour soup is based on a recipe from our friend Nancie McDermott, author of Real Thai (Chronicle Books, 1992). Get the recipe for Tom Yum Goong »

Salata Adas (Garlicky Lentil Salad)
Salata Adas (Garlicky Lentil Salad)

This light, Lebanese lentil salad is flavored with lemon juice, cumin, allspice, and parsley.

Suketu Mehta

“One night last summer, I made a chile-spiked chili for my family: my parents, my sons, my partner, and her parents.” Read Suketu Mehta’s essay, “Fire in the Belly Recipe: Vegetarian Chili

Classic Meatballs
Classic Meatballs

“The meatballs were left on our porch in a Farberware pot with a loaf of Italian bread and a note that said: ‘Figured you wouldn’t have time to cook.'” Get the recipe for Classic Meatballs

Spelt Risotto with Beets and Horseradish
Spelt Risotto with Beets and Horseradish

Switch up your classic risotto with nutty spelt, sweet beets, and horseradish for that extra kick. Get the recipe for Spelt Risotto with Beets and Horseradish »

mung bean
Betsy Andrews

“We laughed at the nutmeg-scented air escaping from the pillow beneath a plate of white bean puree, and at the garnishes arranged like hours on a watch: at one o’clock, a bay laurel leaf-vanilla gel; at nine, a mung bean sprout-sea grape salad.” Read Betsy Andrews’s essay, “Edible Art”

Francine Prose

“If, as Tolstoy wrote, every happy family is alike, he forgot to mention that every happy family can screw up birthdays in different ways.” Read the full text of Francine Prose’s essay, “Happy Birthday, at Last” in Issue #132 of SAVEUR Recipe: Joe’s Stone Crab Mustard Sauce

Jane and Michael Stern

“Twenty years ago, we went to southwest Iowa and stayed awhile at the Tall Corn Motel in the town of Shenandoah.” Read Jane and Michael Stern’s essay, “Good Neighbors” Recipe: Elegant Pork Chops

Trout with Brown Butter and Almonds (Trout Meunière Amandine)
Trout with Brown Butter and Almonds (Trout Meunière Amandine)

Fried fish with a brown butter sauce and almonds is a French classic, and one of the most popular dishes at the beloved New Orleans restaurant Galatoire’s.

Rita Mae Brown

“Some people are connoisseurs of food. I’m a connoisseur of kindness.” Read Rita Mae Brown’s essay, “Going to the Dogs”

Apricot and Walnut Stuffing

Author Marc Maron gave us this recipe for his showpiece Thanksgiving stuffing, studded with dried fruit and enriched with chicken livers.

Chao Sigua (Stir-fried Loofah)

“It has always been on my to-do list to attain Zen enlightenment, and recently, I did.” Read Daniel Pinkwater’s essay, “Mystery Vegetable”

coconut cake
Beth Kracklauer

“I’m seven years old, and the yeasty smell of baking rolls hangs heavy in the air at my great-aunts Minnie and Selma’s apartment.” Read Beth Kracklauer’s essay, “Good Things to Come”

Barbara Nadel

“A city as ancient and fabled as Istanbul is a repository for stories and secrets.” Read Barbara Nadel’s essay, “Street Theater”

Refried Beans with Chorizo
Refried Beans with Chorizo

This simple refried beans recipe requires little more than pinto beans and chorizo. Get the recipe for Refried Beans with Chorizo »

James Oseland

“My mother had just passed away. I was in the Bay Area to close up her apartment, and her 85-year-old best friend, Betty Badgett, invited me over for lunch.” Read James Oseland’s essay, “The Gift of Friendship”

“During the summer of 1975 in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Kochanowicz family of Shelby, North Carolina, introduced the Truong family, formerly of Can Tho, South Vietnam, and more recently of the nearby town of Boiling Springs, to an important American food group: Jell-O salad.” Read Monique Truong’s essay, “Lost in Translation”

Sea Bream and Turnip Hot Pot)
Tai Kabura (Sea Bream and Turnip Hot Pot)

The recipe for this elegant fish soup was inspired by the version served at Kitcho, the legendary Kyoto restaurant. The soup’s deeply flavored broth, called dashi, gets its boost of umami flavor from kombu seaweed (a type of kelp) and dried bonito flakes, two staples of the Japanese pantry. See the recipe for Tai Kabura (Sea Bream and Turnip Hot Pot) »

Brown Butter Pasta
Brown Butter Pasta

Chef Gabrielle Hamilton of New York City’s Prune restaurant gave us her recipe for this delicious pasta, which is tossed in brown butter and pine nuts, then topped with sunny-side-up eggs.

Martha Stewart

“Having consumed something like 75,000 meals in my lifetime, it is a daunting task to pick a favorite.” Read Martha Stewart’s essay, “Playing Favorites” Plus: Share your greatest meal with the editors.

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