Monday, June 16, 2014

Dawn Olsen's food reminiscences

Enjoy this guest post by Dawn Olsen, photographer and author of Candidly Clyde. Dawn's photographs and writing are powerful like her personality and this guest post is full of flavors and images.

Sometimes, it's not just the food that makes a good meal. Sometimes, it's about the company

Two years ago, I and my two best friends were at a Niagara Falls, Canada,restaurant and brewery. We sat at the bar, shoulder-to-shoulder, sipping beer and a sweet wine called "Bad Company." I remember the friendly waiters, the casual chatter, and the murmur of the televisions mounted in each corner of the bar. It was the summer of 2012, and so the TV stations replayed, over and over, the day's Olympic achievements. My friends and I watched the end of a women's marathon, but, after a few more drinks, our talk turned nostalgic. 

When our food arrived, however, our conversation focused on how delicious each dish was, and how mouth-watering the appetizers were. There was the Caprese salad, with its alternating stacks of yellow and red tomatoes, and with cream cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. And there was the thick, tomato gumbo soup, one brimming with rice and sausage. 

My friends and I sat through two additional courses--the main course and the dessert course--speaking only of taste, texture, smell, and savoriness. My creme brulee, for example, was delicate, smooth, and topped with gooseberries. I took my spoon, dipped it into the bowl, and handed it to one of my friends. "Try this," I said, my cheeks flushed from wine. 

He took it from me, the spoonful of silky dessert, and took a gooseberry. "Oh, my God," he said. "This tastes like Christmas." He handed the spoon back to me, and I continued to devour the rest of my dish. 

By the end of the meal, all three of us were wholly satisfied. We had shared glasses, sampled each other's drinks, and used each other's forks and spoons. Sharing silverware. Sharing laughs. 

One year later, and on the other side of the continent, the same two friends and I were squeezed into a booth at Beth's, a 24-hour cafe in Seattle. The cafe was known for its omelets, and was declared the city's "Best Place to Cure a Hangover." And it was also known, of course, for its plethora of scribbles and sketches that wallpapered the interior. Layers and layers of drawings and proclamations, some with pencil, some with crayon, some with ketchup.

I can tell you that I and my sensational sweet tooth ordered French toast. I can tell you that my friends ordered omelets. I can tell you that we shared bacon (which was thick and smoky, by the way) and orange juice and coffee and rye toast. And I can tell you that the breakfast was delicious,but that the company was better.

Food, I’ve learned, isn’t just a nourishment for the body. It provides an opportunity for togetherness, for communion. Eating a good meal with family or friends—a meal that you want to savor, that you want to last forever—is rarely without conversation. At the very least, you’re lost in the quality of what’s on your plate, and will eagerly offer descriptions to your fellow diners. You’ll fawn over the buttery sauce that coats your mussels. You’ll encourage someone to try the baby octopus, to savor the texture. You’ll push that rich chocolate cake across the table and ask people to please, please take a bite. And you’ll relish the nights you spend eating on outdoor patios, where you can proclaim a toast for excellent food, good company, and a get-together that lasts until the early hours of morning.

And, hell, even if your adventure lasts until sunrise, you can always walk to that greasy spoon around the corner, the one that serves its eggs with a side of sarcasm. And there, over steaming mugs of coffee and a stack of blueberry pancakes, you’ll joke. And talk. And remember the times you were together in Niagara Falls, Seattle, Indianapolis, Chicago, Vancouver, home.

Dawn Olsen

Follow Dawn on her blog: Candidly Clyde
and on twitter: @d_marieolsen

1 comment:

  1. Thank you again for featuring me! I appreciate the opportunity and enjoyed thinking about some of my favorite meals. I'll definitely have to travel to Italy someday with my friends; there, I'm sure, I will find some pretty fabulous meals.