Our Readers’ Greatest Meals

by0| PUBLISHED Oct 12, 2010 8:00 AM
Our Readers’ Greatest Meals
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In issue #132, we invited some of our favorite writers and cooks to share the greatest meals of their lives. We also asked our readers to send us memories of their fondest dining experiences. Here are some of their stories.

In issue #132, we invited some of our favorite writers and cooks to share the greatest meals of their lives. We also asked our readers to send us memories of their fondest dining experiences. Here are some of their stories.
To share your most memorable meal, send your story and a photo to ganda@saveur.com. Beth Whittingham Goehring I'd never traveled out of the country until I participated in my college's junior-year-abroad program at Oxford University. On my first night in London, my father and I stayed at the Savoy Hotel. After an evening at the Savoy Theatre, I ordered room service. Because I was new in England, I wanted to have a specialty. I decided on the kidneys as my entree and strawberries for dessert. The waiter rolled the beautifully laid table into the room and lifted the silver dome from the main dish. The smell and sight of those kidneys almost made me hop on the next plane back to the States. After the waiter left, I cut tentatively into one of the lobes, nibbled, and slammed the dome back down, settling in with the more familiar strawberries. Since then, I've traveled quite a bit, and my tastes have grown as I've sampled the exotic foods of many countries. As any parent knows, if you can just get a child to try the first bite, a lifetime of adventurous eating is in store!
Barbara Freeze, Ontario Years ago, while living in Calgary, I noticed a small advertisement for a Turkish restaurant in the newspaper. There were not many restaurants in Calgary then, and I'd never had Turkish food before. It asked that you book ahead, as the restaurant was small and could only accommodate a few guests. I phoned to make a reservation and a woman answered shyly. Yes, she would serve dinner at 7 pm on a weekend a month away in the early spring and I could include my friends. We would be the only guests. She smiled and welcomed us to her home and led us to her dining room. It was a typical dining room in a typical Calgary suburban bungalow. A table was set with a colorful embroidered cloth and what appeared to be her best silver and gold cutlery. The glassware and dishes were colored with gilt embellishment. I think we expected to hear Middle Eastern music of some sort, but from the wobbly needle came the scratchy sounds of Edith Piaf. Our hostess smiled quietly, excused herself and went to her kitchen. She arrived at the table bearing a tray of many small dishes, each containing something different, each exquisite to the eye. She placed them on table carefully, one at a time, explaining each to us. They were beautiful to beholdmdash;small pastries of stuffed phyllo shaped like pillows and cigars filled with herbs and spices and nuts; the tiniest, most delicate of dolma; small skewers of grilled meat; lamb-filled dumplings bathed in a garlicky, golden yogurt sauce; miniature Turkish pizzas; jewel-colored vegetables in olive oil and lemon, both stuffed and unstuffed; and what resembled small imam bayildi. The food was the most sublime that I had ever eaten. She watched us taste each dish, our faces collapsing into pleasure and delight. Again she smiled quietly to herself--a knowing smile. Then she disappeared into the kitchen again. Our hostess returned with the main course. Small birds, most likely squab stuffed with rice and sour cherries, pine nuts and spices, poached in broth and then roasted. Delicious! Dessert was chocolate souffle s, as light and tender as feather down, rich and dark--a French finish to a perfect meal. And then, of course, Turkish coffee. Edith Piaf was silent and all too soon our evening was over. Our hostess was tired and seemed a little let down, her pleasure over as well. We praised her, paid her, and left reluctantly.
Katie Kwan,Kitchen Sidecar Proud to a fault, I had refused help from the commercial tourist agencies, and had successfully gotten myself lost in the local hustle of Vietnam. Carrying a 30 lb backpack and zero language skills, I had set off to find the orchard of Anh Binh, a family run homestay in the tangled mangroves of Vinh Long. I asked every person I passed if they knew where the orchard of Anh Binh was. However, they couldn't answer my questions, not because they didn't know where it was, but because I could not produce the sounds required to adequately communicate what it was. Moto taxi drivers shrugged and old women pointed me in different directions. One young man knew, but he was neither a moto taxi driver, nor interested in driving a stranger around. He was, however, kind. And he saw the desperation in my eyes. So he sighed and started up his moped, signaling for me to jump on. I leapt at this chance and held on tight as we zipped over two foot-wide bridges and under jackfruit trees. When we got there, I tried to pay, but he refused. He said that it was Tet, the new year, and this was his gift to me. I nearly collapsed on the steps of the house at Anh Binh. A girl smiled down at me and offered room and board for $10 US. I gladly accepted. Later, I sat down with a few other guests and enjoyed a breathtaking meal of crispy taro spring rolls, deep fried elephant ear fish with herbs and translucent rice paper, poached spot prawns, stir-fried pork and bitter melons, and a soup of what looked like collard greens. Over lots of beer and laughter, we ended the meal with bright magenta rambutans.
Warren M. Bobrow My favorite meal memory is eating at the former Chanterelle in NYC the night I asked my wife to marry me over a lovely bottle of Ridge Monte-Bello.