We recently hosted an old friend whose absence we feel always, but most keenly each time we pull up a barstool. He left town years ago and wanted to visit Amerigo for the veal saltimbocca. He had been thinking about it for years, and talking about it for a month. It was the only mandatory item on his itinerary, aside from visiting an old flame.
The remembrance of foods past is difficult business. Food becomes part of the cloud of happy memories, and it's hard to untangle its taste from the happiness. For me, it was the pizza joint just off campus. For the love of Pete, it was so awful when I returned, I can't imagine how we survived it.
I started fretting and worked on a Plan B and then worried some more. Please let veal saltimbocca still be on the menu. Please let the angel of Amerigo's stint in receivership have spared the kitchen from the bean counters' predations and management's decimation.
Happy happy! Joy joy! Veal Saltimbocca on the menu. I'd never had Amerigo's version, and it was sensationally rich and complex, with meat, more meat, cheese, sage and a buttery tomato brown sauce. It was the meaty equivalent of a triple chocolate cake with chocolate sauce. Jeff said it wasn't quite as good as he remembered, that the sauce hadn't been reduced enough. But it was a relief, and a revelation, for me.
What about your nostalgic foods? What do you order when you're in your hometown, in Mom's kitchen, or back at your alma mater? Can it hold a candle to your memory? Or is it a shadow of its former self?