When I went on my Texas BBQ Tour, I was reminded that good food is even better with people you love. And then, a few weeks ago I took another food adventure that showed me yet another aspect of why food can be such a rich experience.
Some of my friends have called me a “foodie.” I don’t think so. I just love to eat. Foodies, I think, have well developed palettes. I enjoy exploring new foods and flavors, but I miss a lot of nuances (I’ve never tasted “chocolate notes” in wine – that just seems ridiculous to me). Wikipedia says a foodie
“…is a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and who eats food not out of hunger but due to their interest or hobby . The terms “gastronome” and “gourmand” define the same thing, i.e. a person who enjoys food for pleasure.”
And then there is list of things foodies pursue. Nope. That’s not me. I do not follow restaurant openings, don’t know the first thing about food distribution. I might be bordering on gluttony, but not even close to this definition of a foodie. But, I do take pictures of my meals and post a lot of reviews on Yelp! (I appreciate other people’s reviews that lead me to good places, so it’s a way to give back – and especially to help you avoid the really awful places.)
I did learn, on my trek to New York City to find Di Fara Pizza that there is more to the food than the food. I learned of this place by watching food shows (lots of Andrew Zimmern and Guy Fieri, and of course it was recommended by Johnny T). When I mentioned this to some of my friends, no one had heard of the place. Really? Wow. But okay. And when I told how I had to drive across Staten Island (at 5:00 in rush hour traffic), into Brooklyn, and find my way to the place, all the while fearing a long line and no place to park (neither of which happened, by the way), they asked – “Well? Was it really that good.”
Well? Was it?
Yeah, it was. But it took me a little while to figure out why. The pizza was good. A very good margherita pizza. But if I’d had that pizza in my kitchen, or at a local place, it might not have been that great. Last week I heard an episode of Hidden Brain titled “Hungry, Hungry, Hippocampus.” At some point it dawned on me why that Di Fara pizza was so good. It wasn’t just a perfect combination of tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella on a perfectly cooked crust (all of which it was). But it was the whole experience of realizing I was close to a famous place I wanted to visit, finding my way across Staten Island, cruising through the streets of Brooklyn, finding a parking spot by the front door (actually, two spots so I didn’t even have to back in to parallel park), no one in line, watching Domenico DeMarco making the same pizza he’s been making since 1964, sitting at a communal table and visiting with a local (who offered a few other visitor tips) – all of that together made that pizza really great.
On my trip to Philly, that roast pork sandwich was really good (best sandwich in America says Adam Richman), but knowing I wanted to try this sandwich, being directed by a friend on where to get the best one, again sharing a communal table with locals, and sharing the experience (via messages and pictures) with the friend who directed me there – all that made it even better. The German food I had with a group of friends and colleagues was really great – but sharing it with those people was even better.
It’s not just the food. It’s the whole experience, and most importantly the people involved that get you there or share it with you.