It’s that time of the year when we read about exceptional restaurants. I like exceptional and expensive restaurants. I visited quite a few. The difference between a really good restaurant and an average one is like the difference between expensive clothing and the rest available out there. I bought both so I know the difference. Average clothing asks for a little of attention, like searching for imperfections or cutting all the lines hanging everywhere.
It’s difficult to find “lines hanging” in good restaurants, but let me tell you: they are not mistake proof. I will never forget that I got really sick after eating in one of the most exclusive restaurants in Europe.
In terms of European food, I bet in Italian (north). The freshness and quality is way above average. I was lucky to find a good restaurant where I had the most wonderful meals. Good food is addictive. We keep coming. I intend to return. Lucky me, it is miles and miles away or I would be incredibly fat by now.
Nevertheless, when someone asks me about the best meal I ever had, I won’t answer a fancy name or even the amazing Italian restaurant I was just talking about. My best meal ever was at a humble road stop. I was with a group of male and female friends. We had stopped for a drink and one of the girls said she was hungry. The owner said his wife was at the kitchen, where she prepared meals, not at the costumer’s request but whatever she was in the mood to cook.
We entered the kitchen. I cannot remember her face. She must have been middle age or older. It was a cold winter in the hinterland. The kitchen felt warm and inviting. We sat at a wooden table. A wooden fire burned in the grate. She was frying chips with fragrant olive oil. Without any question or observation, she put a dish in front of each of us. It was pretty simple: pork roast and fries. We couldn’t stop eating. It was like a sortilege. She was a witch and we were under her spell.
Recently I talked about that experience to a friend. She told me I must have been very hungry. I don’t think so. I’ve been hungry many times and I don’t have a single idea of what I had. It could have been the warmth of the kitchen. It could have been the company. It could have been a million things. The fact remains as it is: my best meal ever was at a humble road stop in the middle of nowhere.