Last year, my girlfriend and I decided that instead of getting each other gifts for the holidays, we’d just go out to a nice dinner somewhere and talk about our favorite memories of the past 12 months. It started well, with a brief volley of travel stories, hers, then mine, then hers, remember the time we did that thing at that place, oh yeah, remember the other story from that other place a few months later—but then it devolved somehow into our favorite food moments of the year. I am not sure who started it, but I’m sure it involved someone saying “remember the rosti at that place?” or something similar.
And then it went on, from semi-expensive fancy meals to diner breakfasts served briskly across the counter with a fork and knife stabbed into them, to a half-gallon of chocolate almond milk my friend Chris and I eliminated in a matter of minutes on the tailgate of my van after a long, hot day of climbing at Lumpy Ridge.
It felt kind of strange, recounting the entire year in memories of food, but then we just went with it. In the end, I think it’s a great way to remember a year. When you think about it, eating is usually a happy thing. You’re often with your favorite people when you do it. It’s typically part of special occasions. And in my line of recreation, a lot of it takes place in beautiful outdoor locations (or directly after burning thousands of calories, which makes it taste even better).
So I’ve been thinking about my 2015 List of Food Moments. I’d encourage you to do the same. Here are a couple of mine to help you brainstorm.
May: High Pie Pizzeria, Telluride
After a long weekend at Mountainfilm and after most the festival-goers had left town, Hilary and I walked into the High Pie Pizzeria for a calm Sunday night dinner. One of the young, female bartenders sat in a chair in the middle of the room, opposite a cowboy-hatted guy with a guitar, who serenaded her with old country songs. A film called Unbranded had won the Audience Choice Award at the festival, and the gentleman with the guitar was Val Geissler, a cowboy poet and one of the stars of the film.
September: Safeco Field, Seattle
It’s rare that I get an hour-long in-person conversation with my friend Fitz anymore—seems like we mostly see each other at trade shows and film festivals, where we’re lucky to get five minutes to chat in the middle of social events. And we both love baseball (or at least I love eating food in the ambience of a professional baseball stadium), so on a sunny evening, we met at the ballpark and had a great three hours and some semi-decent hot dogs. I do need to remember to remind him that he let me pay for both the tickets and the hot dogs, though.
September: Bear Creek Lake Park, Lakewood, Colorado
When I told my friend Syd I’d signed up for my first ultramarathon, he got up early (despite spending the previous evening at the Great American Beer Festival) and brought his wonderful enthusiasm to the race course, dousing me with water when I stopped after each lap, filling up my water bottles, and keeping me feeling positive about my chances of shuffling across the finish line before the cutoff time. At the start of my second lap, I joked, “Do you want me to bring you any snacks from the aid stations? They have everything.” Syd joked back, Yeah, get me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So I did. At the last aid station on my lap, at the 15.5 mile mark, I grabbed a few snacks, filled up my water bottles, and picked up a small peanut butter and jelly sandwich for Syd. I tried not to smash it, but by the time I got to the end of the lap and saw Syd waiting, the sandwich had a big thumbprint in it and a small dead fly stuck to the exposed peanut butter. He laughed and ate it anyway.
November: Interstate 70, Eastern Utah
After wrapping up an assignment with my friend Forest, we ate a celebratory dinner at the very fancy, very amazing Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder, Utah. When we hit the road the next morning, I grabbed two frozen burritos for snacks on our four-hour drive to the airport in Grand Junction, where I’d drop him off to catch his flight. Near the Utah-Colorado border, we decided it was Burrito Time, but the burritos were still pretty chilly, and maybe a little frozen in the middle. I turned the defrost up as hot and high as it would go, and we put the burritos on the dashboard right over the vent so they would defrost, or maybe even cook a little bit. After a few minutes, it got hot. I unzipped my sweatshirt. Forest took off his shirt. I sweated. Just a couple more minutes, I said, feeling the icy middle of my burrito. Finally, I said the hell with it and we started eating the burritos. They were kind of warm, kind of cold, with a definitely just-this-side-of-frozen bit in the middle. The food was not what you might call “good,” but we were done with our assignment, headed home, and I couldn’t help wonder what all the truckers we passed were thinking when they saw two guys in an Astrovan with a bed in the back eating burritos at 80 mph, one of them clad in only a pair of shorts.
Now, what did you eat this year?