Do you remember the best thing you’ve ever eaten?
In my twenty years, the first few were probably reserved for baby food. I’ve never asked, but I assume my parents bought a lot of it from Tops and Aldi, although my Dad is quite the chef, who am I to know without asking if he wasn’t cooking me up some delicious homemade applesauce or non-Kraft, Italian-style mac and cheese? Not that I’d remember anyway.
The next few I remember a bit better. Chicken nuggets/fingers ruled the food scene. McDonald’s nuggets earned four of my Michelin stars, while the oven-baked kind straight out of the frozen section did in a pinch with probably a hint of whining. Restaurant chicken fingers accompanied by the delicious bleu cheese seemingly found only at elusive Greek diners were the reigning champions, especially if I could have cottage cheese and Sprite with my meal. A true dining masterpiece.
A brief mozzarella sticks phase (respectable) followed, and then came middle school body image pressure. My greasy fried food-filled diet would serve me well no longer when friends started bragging about “enjoying” broccoli and I discovered fashion/health magazines and Tumblr. Enter a series of running, yoga, the eternal struggle to learn whether “organic” actually means healthier, nutrition facts, calorie counting, Greek yogurt, cereal, peanut butter, vegetarian phases and struggling to choke down vegetables.
Once I learned to balance, the harms of calorie counting and that good food tastes good, one word describes my fare affair: cheese. Many cheesy slogans brag “_____ makes everything better,” but step over diamonds, cats, friends and wine, the real answer is cheese.
I’ve come a long way since my chicken finger days. Since moving out and not having my Dad’s hearty, homecooked meals at my fingertips, I’ve ventured out of my old comfort zone. When food isn’t at your disposal and everything you ingest is your own choice — something you must expend time and energy to find and purchase — your relationship with food changes (or at least, mine did). Tim Hortons breakfast sandwiches, gas station parfaits and Combos still find their way into my diet, but I spend more time finding good restaurants to enjoy with friends and family. So in the last couple years, I’ve eaten a good amount of tasty meals, both in my small travels and especially around Buffalo.
But none can trump my meal at Left Bank last week.
I didn’t want to like it as much as I did. It seems like too obvious an answer to the “Where was the best food you’ve ever had question?” It’s one of Buffalo’s designated great restaurants, one that’s sure to make the lists. I overheard the table behind me having multiple discussions about their humble upbringings; it’s the kind of place that invites that kind of conversation, in a reverse way. But it was excellent. A bona fide, luscious, rich, creamy, cheesy concoction. It was a special, a ravioli stuffed with roasted pork and a combination of melted cheeses I forgot to write down, then topped with the best cream sauce I’ve ever tasted. The ravioli tasted more like a savory crepe than a usual ravioli. The quaint, romantic atmosphere helped too, but for once, the food made more of an impact on me.
I washed it all down with a Shirley Temple. Some things never change.