Sunday, February 27, 2011

Repost: Top five dining experiences, Part I.

This is a repost from December, 2010.  What I love about most of my favorite dining experiences is many of them involve being outdoors, in other words, not in fancy restaurants where the experiences are expected to be amazing. I am also very curious what your most memorable meals are, so please leave a comment below!

As a younger, fitter lass, once a year I backpacked with my high school Chemistry teacher's husband, who led backcountry excursions through the Grand Canyon for his friends.  Why he took kids along, I have no idea, because at 16, we were whiny, complainy, fussy members of the group.  One year, a girl took a butane curling iron on one of our five-day trips.

On a different year, my sister came along with us, which was great because that meant I got to share a tent with a kid I didn't mind sharing a tent with.  It was an "intermediate" hike, and as I recall, sis and I were the only two kids on the hike.  By that time, I was well-conditioned through a routine of Cross Country in the fall and Track and Field in the spring to hike 40 miles in five days. With 40 pounds on our backs, we trudged down and across an eastern section of the Grand Canyon.  When we found the springs at our scheduled eight-mile stop dry, we had to move forward for water, which meant descending to the bottom of the canyon, another eight miles in.  After 16 miles that day, I took my pack off, and my sister was grossed out by the salt stains on my t-shirt.  I think I ate my weight in salty pasta that night.

After a day of rest, we launched again, this time up (really up, I think it was a 3,000 foot elevation gain) to our next campsite.  Ron, our guide, talked us in to setting up camp and hiking out an additional 4 mile round trip to an overlook in the canyon to have dinner.  As we were sitting on Plateau Point, making dinner on our campstoves, Ron, a devoted lover of the outdoors, said to us,

"You are eating at one of the most exclusive restaurants in the world."

Beaten down to tired, accomplished, happy bags of human beings, watching the canyon's colors warm up the sunset over the Colorado River 2,500 feet below and across the canyon up to the North Rim, he nailed that moment onto the walls of my memory bank.

I ate two of these cups of soup.

I haven't seen one of these on shelves in years, mostly because I don't shop down that aisle very often anymore. This little instant cup of soup is living proof (for me) that the experience has as much to do with the meal itself in creating amazing food experiences. For a completely different reason than the other four experiences on my "top five meals" list, this was one of the best meals I have ever eaten. A frikkin' instant cup of soup.

Thanks, Vitamin Cottage a few blocks from my soon-ending project in Denver, for bringing this moment back to me.

What are some of your most amazing experiences around meals?  Please share your stories below.


  1. We shared a can of chicken on top of that cup 'o noodles. Remember? We lugged that can all over the canyon for our "nice meal" the last night.
    My favorite meal (besides this one) was either the ribs I made over a campfire in Parker Canyon, or the Lonesome Dove where I tasted all sorts of different food. I cannot pick just one...sorry.

  2. I love that this is one of your top five dining experiences! I guess it just goes to show that the best food experience does NOT have to be fancy. And honestly, this brings back memories of being a kid: My family was living in rural Mexico for a short bit, in pretty rugged conditions. But, my parents took us on a short vacation to the tourist city of Mazatlan and they took us out to dinner at Pizza Hut. We hadn't had American food in months! But the the thing I remember even more distinctly would be later on that evening, when I ate a slice of cold pizza during a hot bath. It was so perfect! Best pizza I've ever had.

  3. how can can you pick a top five? here's a random great: toasting bread slices in a fireplace in tuscany then rubbing the warm slices with cloves of garlic that melted into the bread... drizzled with the local olive oil and drinking wine that came by the open case in bottles with no labels.... right after college and long before "brucheta" was on anyone's menu.

  4. I absolutely loved this post. It's so true. I love to travel - something I didn't discover until I was in mid-20's (fine, later 20's) and become a parent.

    I love everything about being somewhere unfamiliar and soaking it up. I also love to eat. So one of my experiences was eating in a local, small, very un-clean (after our meal, I saw a man in the back chopping vegetables at his feet as he squatted barefoot in a water basin) outdoor "restaurant" in Vietnam. There was a tank full of fish and a monkey in a cage by our table. (I still don't want to know what was up with the monkey.I know the fish ended up on our plates. I'm hoping that was all that ended up on our plates...)

    The food was so incredible and the location very neat. So much local life not touched by tourists because of where we were. I was sure I was going to get sick, but at that moment, it didn't matter.

    I was lucky enough to have similar dining experiences several more times. And by some miracle, I never got sick (on that particular trip).


Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Stay positive!