Julie at Kitchenography tagged me for a meme devised by Melissa over at The Travelers Lunchbox. Inspired by a BBC poll of 50 things to eat before you die, Melissa has whittled the question down to a more manageable query for her fellow bloggers. What five foods have you eaten in your life that you think everyone should eat once before they die? At first, it seemed difficult to narrow my choices down to only five foods, but I soon realized that five very predictable (for me) choices had rushed to the fore in my mind.
1.) Seafood Filé Gumbo
There are many versions of seafood gumbo, and all aficionados have rules about how it should be made. Some use okra, others use filé, the ground leaves from the sassafras tree. I come from a filé gumbo family. The gumbo we eat is dark as swamp water, made with a roux cooked until it's the color of bittersweet chocolate. We don't put sausage in our gumbo. Or fish. We put pounds and pounds of freshly shelled shrimp and freshly caught blue crabs into the witchy brew. This version of seafood gumbo can be found along the gulf coast in parts of Mississippi and Louisiana (and a smidge of Alabama). Some restaurants in New Orleans will have it, but it's often best when made by an ordinary person in their home. Cozy up to one of those people if you're in gumbo country and finagle a bowl out of them.
Just thinking about this dish makes my taste buds start to tingle. I've read the recipe and it doesn't seem that difficult to prepare. It's just two exquisite butter poached oysters in a sabayon-tapioca puddle topped with a huge spoonful of the best caviar. Oh wait. The quality of the ingredients might be a bit hard to obtain for poor little me. I've had so many wonderful meals at The French Laundry, but I always anticipate eating this signature dish the most. On my last visit, it wasn't on the menu and seeing my crestfallen face, the waiter had it made specially for me.
3.) Huckleberry Cobbler, made with real huckleberries
When I was a child my grandmother would send me off to gather
huckleberries from the wild bushes scattered around her land. My
grandmother didn't have a yard, she had land. Acres of it. And it was
the job of the grandchildren to reconnoiter and come back with a coffee
can full of berries. Real huckleberries look like small blueberries,
but they are different. Many blueberries are sold as huckleberries, but
they aren't the real deal. It took me hours to pick enough of the tiny
little huckleberries for my grandmother's amazing cobbler. It
was just a simple cobbler, but the huckleberries had such an intense
wine-like taste, you couldn't help but make little moans of
appreciation as you ate it.
4.) Lemon-Lime Meringue Pie, Mustard's Grill, Napa, California
Diners usually freeze, mouths open when they first see this signature dessert of Mustards Grill. It's enormous and any sane person would share it with 2 or 3 people. But, no one does. Instead they all plow into it with abandon, reveling in the tart lemon-lime flavor, the mound of Italian meringue, and sugared lemon peel. You'll reel out of the restaurant swearing you'll never eat a whole slice again. But, you will.
I dream about vine ripened tomatoes when they are out of season. And
when I finally pick my first tomato, I make a tomato sandwich with it.
Good bread, excellent mayonnaise, (homemade if possible), fresh
tomatoes, a little salt and pepper--what could be better?
Now, the difficult part. Tagging only 5 people. I had 15 people in mind, but realized it would be unseemly (and greedy ) to tag so many. But, if you are reading this, consider yourself tagged, and please share your thoughts on this subject.