The best meal I ever had

Buffy at Plain Simple English is wondering what special dinner to make for her guy for Valentine’s Day. It sounds as if he doesn’t use the V-Day gifts she’s given him in the past (and they’re nice ones), so I guess the thinking is that if she cooks he’s at least got to eat it. She’s asking the ladies for tips on great meals they’ve put together.

I’m not one of the ladies, which is probably just as well because my most memorable meal isn’t that high on “fancy” or “special.” Here’s how it went, though.

We were living on the East Side of St. Paul, back when the Mall Diva was just the Diva and Tiger Lilly was little more than “‘Ger”. I was taking the bus to and from work, with a three block walk to the bus stop from our house (no, it wasn’t uphill both ways). It was an especially cold and windy day in the middle of a Minnesota winter and the walk home that evening was directly into the pointy teeth of the wind. My office hadn’t gone to “corporate casual” yet so I had on a suit, my professional wool overcoat, a snappy suede fedora and a scarf around my neck and under the lapels of my coat. This is theoretically sufficient for your urban commuter, but hardly what you’d take along for an arctic expedition, which was what my walk felt like it was turning into. The pain only abated a little when my cheeks went numb about a block from the house.

I made it to the back door, lunging directly into the kitchen as if bursting through a snow drift … and was enveloped in the warm cloud of dinner coming off of the stove. Mmmmm, breaded pork cutlets, right out of the skillet with mash potatoes, gravy and (ambrosia!) sauerkraut to spread over the top of the cutlets. The cutlets themselves were perfectly crisped on the outside and succulent on the inside; the mashed potatoes had just the right, satisfying degree of lumpiness, and the bright, shiny faces of my young family around the table were the perfect complement to my own chapped cheeks. There may have been dessert.

When I think about “good eating”, that’s what I remember.

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