I wasn’t always a foodie. There were glimmers of it showing up in my teens. I went through a phase of making cheese cakes for my family. I even doled out some of my own precious gold to purchase a springform pan. Unfortunately I was also a junk food fanatic and that usually won out for my chosen cuisine when I had control over my daily dietary needs.
By the time college came around I had no recourse- it was the dorm’s cafeteria food (which was better than your average cafeteria food) or fast food – OR- a delicious (and more importantly) cheap pimento spread from the nearby Sunnyside Superette. My father had turned me on to pimento cheese spread and to this day I have not found a store-prepared one that tastes as good as the one I got at WVU.
As you can tell, none of these victual vignettes were the tipping point for me. No, I’m happy to report that the singular dining experience that pushed me into my culinary comeuppance was provided by my college girlfriend.
We definitely shared similar taste in food and were also equally broke; hence, many a date were spent lingering over a pizza and cheap wine. During one such dining discourse I must have mentioned my adoration for game hen. I have always enjoyed foul as a main course, but the first time I had a petite variety I was hooked. A well prepared cornish game hen with the appropriate garnishes is hard to beat.
As our romance deepened my time to depart the college and earn my wings in the real world drew nigh. One day an unusual message appeared from under my dorm room door, meticulously lettered in silver ink on hand-made stationary (actual invitation shown here):
Wow! Classy! I dressed for the occasion and made my way to the event without the benefit of having my feet touch the ground. Before I arrived at her door I could smell an amazing aroma in the hallway. I was cordially welcomed into the small dorm room and to my utter amazement there was a gorgeous game hen cooked to perfection within… a toaster oven.
To this day I recall it as being the best game hen I have ever tasted. Were my taste buds influenced by the lively conversation and close affections? Undoubtedly. Then again, what memorable date is not? It becomes an integral part of the dining experience.
I’m happy to report that the phenomenal chef of that evening is now my wife, married 25 years as of this writing.
He shoots, he scores.