The Perfect Meal

Husband came home the other night and declared that he was going make a cold German supper for himself. He knew that we had everything he needed for it, down to St. Pauli Girl beer. You can see all the things that went into his supper in the header photo. He proceeded to make potato salad, and had it with the liverwurst, butterkase, corned beef, pickled asparagus, and caraway bread. The Baby Bel cheese isn’t German, but that somehow didn’t matter for him. He had been planning this meal for several days, and spent the weekend acquiring the things he wanted.

Husband is extremely fussy when he prepares and plans our meals, and when he gets an idea about a menu, he is very particular that he has just the right (in his opinion) things that should be included and that should go together. I don’t know where he gets some of his ideas of what should go together. Grocery shopping is a challenge sometimes, as he gets visibly distressed when he can’t find just the right things he has envisioned. Mental flexibility isn’t one of his strengths in these circumstances. At least he is able to laugh at himself and suggested that I write this post about him.

I just want my food to taste good, and if we don’t have exactly the right kind of olive, pickle, beer, or cheese, it really doesn’t matter that much to me. Whenever Husband gets broody and quiet, I know that he is thinking about food and planning some meal or other. Sometimes Grape Nuts is just the perfect supper for me. Heck, I don’t even care what wine I pair with it!

Describe a perfect meal that you have had. What would you include in the menu for a perfect meal you would like to prepare? How fussy are you about these things?

46 thoughts on “The Perfect Meal”

  1. I am an errant cook, but I’ve enjoyed cooking for years. I used to trade dinners with a young couple. I’d serve them, then they’d serve me a month or two later. That was a bit unusual, as I didn’t often try to cook a whole meal. But I did for Elizabeth and Andrew.

    Once, on a whim, I prepared a Belgian meal for my friends. The centerpiece was chicken braised in Belgian beer, with lots of mushrooms and pearl onions. I did something slightly fancy with the potatoes, using a recipe from Belgium (where they are very serious about cooking spuds properly). Desert was pears soaked in spiced wine.

    At the end of the meal, we were stunned and almost speechless. Without meaning to or knowing what I was doing, I had cooked a perfect meal. It was far better than anything I’ve done before or since.

    I have the chicken recipe and could share it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Please do. You should know the various baboons well enough to know that you don’t need a written invitation to post a recipe, especially one for a part of a perfect meal. Let’s have it, please.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Since what I feel like having for dinner changes daily and since what I choose to make is predicated on what sounds appealing to Robin (she is pretty accommodating), what we have that needs to be used (I keep a mental inventory), what we’ve had the nights previous—since no meal stands in isolation but is a counterpoint to what came before—since our rotating menu changes with the weather and with the seasonal availability of fresh ingredients, the notion of a “perfect” meal is foreign and irrelevant to me. It’s not how I think about food and cooking.

    I try to decide what I will make early enough in the day that I can conveniently pick up any key ingredient I may lack but otherwise my choices are impulsive, spontaneous and flexible.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I feel intimidated and will sit this one out. St least I can say that I don’t spend my time in Spain looking for fish and chip shops, as some English people do, yes that legend IS true.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, but Spanish food is so wonderful, and all that lovely fish! My non-existant gallbladder eschews most fried foods, so fish and chips is not something I would seek out, either.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know you’re right about Spanish food, but as a committed Philistine, I’ve hardly scratched the surface. Our disorganised, busy lifestyle doesn’t help.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Bill, I’ve only read “Echos of Spain”. Giles Tremlett. Although, it’s not specifically about living in Spain. I’m trying not to be an expat, if that makes any sense. I don’t really know what I mean myself.
          I tend to be semi available at most hours at the moment. It’s not that I don’t sleep, just that I’m disorganised.
          Steve’s right about me and technology.
          If it was all diesel powered, with a series of clutches I could ease in, and watch things slowly start to turn, it would make more sense. Please, will someone tell me what a domain is?

          Liked by 1 person

  4. The only other thing that Husband is this fussy about is his writing, which is why he takes so much time writing evaluations and case notes.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Looking at the header photo, I’m wondering if the kefir was used in the potato salad? Looks like a very satisfying meal.

    When I think of perfect meals what comes to mind is food consumed in good company. Oftentimes I can’t even remember what was served, the memory is so much more about the people, the situation, location, and general circumstances.

    One meal that instantly flashed into my consciousness right now, seemingly from out of nowhere, was an after-swim sandwich consumed on a beach of Lake Lausanne in Switzerland. Annette and I and a couple of young men we had just met, sitting on a blanket overlooking the lake glinting in the sunshine, and eating sandwiches out of freshly baked bread purchased as a local bakery and our trusty jar of raspberry jam. There was likely a bottle of wine involved, too, though I couldn’t say for sure. Just one of those sweet, carefree interludes that my life has been so abundantly blessed with.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Husband combined the kefir with sour cream and mayonnaise to make potato salad dressing. He also added the pickles and radishes and green onions to the potato salad.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. I have a chicken pot pie recipe I got from a psychologist friend many years ago. I keep it as a macabre example of psychopathology. The recipe is two, type-written, single spaced pages of excruciating detail of how the dish should be prepared. The interesting yet horrific thing about the recipe is its source. My friend got it from a very perfectionistic, demanding, and rigid plastic surgeon whose trophy wife ultimately killed herself in despair of her marriage by setting herself on fire.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. One of my very favorite cookbooks is one put out, as a joint fundraising venture between the West Side Safe Neighborhood Council and the Riverview Garden Club back in 1998. I love this book because I know many of the cooks, and some of the recipes are actually quite good. Some I’d never dream of preparing.

      There are a couple of recipes in the book that stand out. One is a recipe for green beans! It’s five single-spaced pages long. It was submitted by Adolf Vandendorpe who grew up in Flanders in Norther Belgium, and he describes every detail of what goes into making this traditional way of preparing beans in Belgium. Adolf was a delightful man with a wry sense of humor and an impressive array of knowledge about everything from beekeeping to printing presses, and old fashioned renaissance man. I don’t know if he’s still alive, but this recipe keeps his memory alive, at least for me.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. None of the meals that I consider perfect are meals that I’ve made. I like to cook and I’m a good cook but meals in interesting locales and with interesting people and where I don’t have to do any of the work rank high for me. I know I’ve talked about my two best meals of all time, one in Italy and one in Sicily. Both at vineyards. One was a massive buffet and everything was fabulous especially all the vegetables and the garlic bread and the second was family style with platter after platter of cheeses and meats and olives and breads and vegetables. And tiramisu and cannoli revelations!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’d have to concede that if you consider the quality of the meal, the skill, ingredients and imagination required to turn it into a perfect meal, nothing I have ever prepared rose to that standard. I consider myself a reasonably capable cook, but when I think of the meals prepared by my late friend, Anne, we’re just talking two different universes. Anne’s mother had been a personal assistant and cooking companion to Simone Beck for several years, and Anne grew up with that quality of cooking. In retrospect, I’m appalled that I ever had the audacity to cook for her, but damn I did, and she was always graciously appreciative of my efforts.

      Another memorable meal that comes to mind is the one I brought to Mike and Anne’s house in Northfield after they had had a fire in their house. The house was on the market at the time, and the two of them had taken a few days vacation during which several realtors had showed it. Apparently someone had flipped an electrical switch to something or another, and a slow electrical fire had smoldered for days before being discovered. Everything was covered in a fine ash and the whole place reeked of smoke.

      I fixed a big box of Danish smørrebrød, and we drove to Northfield to help clean out the wreckage and share a meal with them. As we sat there in their kitchen, eating our smørrebrød and counting our blessings in the midst of the devastation, I think we all appreciated that the situation could have been so much worse.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. PJ, if I may call you that? Everyone seems to. I trawled back through some posts, and I found a very nice comment I hadn’t seen, from you to me. Thank you for your welcome, I’ll answer your questions as I remember them. Yes, I am English, and yes, although my only “device,” my phone, insists on US spellings, I insist more strongly on English ones. Most of the music I like is more or less derived from the Southern states of America ( that’s an over simplification, I know), and these days I notice my writing style is often in that staccato style I associate with your side of the pond, but I still like to maintain my identity maybe.
        I live fifty miles due south of Valencia, and fifty due north of Alicante. So am in the Valencia region, “the driest, dustiest corner of Spain.” I explained to Steve how we came to move here, with my usual constant digressions, and he’s probably still wading through it all. Basically this is the what, not the why. I’m 70 now, and have been here full time since I retired 5 years ago. Jane, my wife, is 52,my first, only, and very precious son Isaac is 12, and “graduated” from Junior School the night before last. They moved out the year before I retired, and I commuted for that year, a spell here, and a spell in England working, an unpleasant, miserable episode for me. My truck licence expired after a year’s happy disuse, when I was 66, and I delightedly, didn’t renew it. And I’m too busy now to have time for a full time job, anyway.
        Steve and I both discovered the jazz group Tuba Skinny just before our respective lockdowns. Maybe on the same day! The same moment! We both became obsessed, and started spotting each others’ YouTube comments. Eventually Steve put his email address in a comment, long enough to instruct me on how to respond to it. And the rest is history! Now I’m semi signed up as a Baboon, if I can figure kut out out the last of the hurdles.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Stewart, is your phone set up for UK English? I would imagine that would give you your preferred spellings, although I haven’t tried it.

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        2. Thanks, Stewart, and welcome to our congress or troupe of baboons. Good to meet you and have a little better idea of who you are. I have a cousin (the son of one of my mother’s brothers) who lives in Alicante part of the year, and in Drogheda, Ireland the remainder. Where in England are you from? I look forward to learning more about you and your life as time goes by. I am curious though, what do you mean by trying to not be an expat?

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  8. Does the recipe need 3 bottles of St. Paulie Girl or are some for him?

    We don’t go to that much trouble to eat… I made my mom’s Cheesecake recipe the other day and it annoyed me I had to use, like, 4 different bowls to get things mixed up. I didn’t realize I was such a lazy cook!
    When I bake Amish Friendship Bread, I’ve got that down to two bowls (plus the six pans) so I don’t know why the cheese cake bothered me so much.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. PJ, I’ll answer your last question first. I don’t exactly know what I meant either, “trying not to be an expat.” As soon as I wrote it, I thought, I’m going to be asked to explain that. Maybe it’s to do with the lack of commitment. Which I WILL eventually explain. Maybe it’s because I’m a born misfit. Which is partly, maybe fully, because of my suspected Aspergers Syndrome. I don’t know if it’s something you can recognise in yourself, but Steve agrees it seems to fit. I don’t mind being a misfit, by the way. And maybe it’s because British expats have such a bad reputation. It’s 5.30am now, and I should be sleeping a little longer, but maybe over the days and years, my new friends can help me figure all this out.
      I was born in London, but raised in Devon from the age of about four, and proudly think of Devon as home. That’s where I want to be. I’ll go into that further, also, but not this minute. We moved to Southampton, temporarily, for Jane’s new job, in 1998. Only, once we were there, Jane wouldn’t go back to Devon after all. We have different views of the place. I had easily the best deal,though.I was depressed just about every moment of the seventeen years we spent in Southampton. Jane felt guilty, but didn’t want to go to Devon, and be depressed. I’d take depression over guilt any time, I was well off. But we eventually found this way out, and it’s not bad. I didn’t want to go anywhere else in England, it would be disloyal to my home county. And I’d hate it anyway. This is kind of permissible, and I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it. But it’s away from my family, and my real life, and that’s not fun, not really. Jane’s committed though, she loves it, and works to fit in, and not be an expat.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Stewart, I appreciate your willingness to share so much of your personal history. I spent a couple of vacations in my youth in Plymouth where my mother’s sister, my Aunt Bridie, lived. I have fond memories of the place, which I recall as beautiful. I especially remember the seashore which impressed me with its tides.

        Do you speak Spanish? I imagine that by now your son speaks it fluently. I am wondering, how did you pick Spain as an alternative. Did the looming Brexit factor into your decision? Gosh, I’m just so curious as to how people decide pick up an move, lock, stock, and barrel.

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  9. I am sore and weary after weeding both our vegetable plots and then laying down newspapers and covering them with dirt to keep down the weeds. It really is a fussy gardeners task, but it saves so much work in the long run. We joke that we want people to know that seriously fussy Dutch/German Protestants live here, and no weeds will be tolerated. We have 25 bags of top soil to help with this task.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I will have to say that a Beef Bourguignon with a side salad and some crusty bread/butter would do it for me. And no, picky and fussy are not words you’d use to describe my eating habits (she said as she licked the bowl).

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Food days are always wonderful on the Trail. welcome, Stewart!

    OK, word press is letting me comment if I sign in every danged time. and lord knows there would be a Like after a whole boatload of the comments, if it would let me.

    OT: We,re still at Gunderson, LaCrosse. Husband is doing better, and we’ll be headed home in a day or two. looking at in home rehab, mostly speech therapy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Barbara, thank you too. Everybody is so NICE! But then, you don’t know me yet. Glad to know your husband is improving.
      I do remember you saying something about not being able to do everything on the blog while you’re away from your computer, is that why you can’t do likes, etc? Or do you mean, all the time? I was getting ahead with the process, and then suddenly found I was on the verge of starting a website. I don’t need to do that, do I? Because I’m not going to (stamps foot, says, I won’t!)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. WordPress is very erratic. I can comment and “like” if I happen to be on my desktop computer but if I am on my iPad I cannot like and I can only comment if I write my comment, select it, copy it, then sign on to the Trail, then scroll down and paste my comment. I have to do that every time. I can comment from my phone, but then I am anonymous. It’s a lot of bother.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I seem to be signed in. Hello everyone. Bill, if they meant where do I live, it’s El Palomar. The words they need to describe it are “dry and dusty.” But I thought it was computerspeak, along the lines of cherished/significant address, mother’s maiden name, what town was I born in, etc. I suppose I would have stopped in time before I actually did start a website.

          Liked by 2 people

        1. I still can’t do likes. And just now I was locked out from sending. Trying again.

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