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What makes the perfect meal?

Wednesday, 18th July, 2018 5:04pm

Currently, I am reading ‘A Cook’s Tour’ by the late Anthony Bourdain – the book is all about finding the perfect meal. Reading is slow as I am on the road quite a bit these days so I am only at the part where he is hoping that the freshest oyster, with memories from his childhood vacations in France, makes the perfect meal.

Curious what people perceive to be the perfect meal, I asked some people and the answers were as varied as the people themselves. Colette likes anything without potatoes (how can you not like potatoes you might ask) but especially a roast chicken. Her colleague likes anything with noodles while Luigi, an Italian chef from Youghal, shared his passion for a Marini Rosso on ice and a platter of antipasto followed by grilled fish, a good dessert with dessert wine, finished off with an espresso – I love the sound of that.

Joseph shared his favourite restaurants for the perfect meal while Kate from West Cork nailed it when she said it is hard to pin down as occasion, location and emotions play a role in the perfect meal. For me, I have to say it is all the above, but mostly who I am sharing my meal with.

I have met amazing people over a very simple plate of food – we came to the table as strangers and left as friends. Food for me is connection, community, and yes, emotion as Kate mentioned.

I love cooking for my friends, when we all forget time and place, and simply enjoy each other’s company and friendship. I still remember meals I had with my German grandmother who loved food at a time where the term foodie wasn’t even invented.

One particular meal stands out; we were in Berlin and visited a restaurant called Bonaparte. A French style restaurant with an Indian owner, I had the best zander filet with lemon butter and a rice timbale. This is now over 30 years ago and I still remember it.

Everything was right, the ambience of the place, the service (the owner was serving us), the most amazing fish cooked just perfectly, but most of all the company. My nan was funny, smart and she loved me. This, up to this day, is what I still consider the perfect meal. But, saying that, a bowl of spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and chilli with Mr T, sitting in the garden in the warm evening sun talking about our day is as close as perfect happiness there is.

You see, it is still the company that makes a perfect situation. So, grab your friends or other loved ones and make a meal, it doesn’t matter if it is in a posh eatery, at home or on a picnic blanket. Simply enjoy it and it will be perfect.

 

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