When I went to lunch with my work team today, they all got hamburgers so that was the sandwich on my mind for today’s prompt. It was Restaurant Week so there was a special menu, and I opted for a celery root soup and braised rabbit gnocchi. I was pleased with myself initially and my oh so civilized adult choices, but the entire time I was eyeing those hamburgers like a hungry wolf. My portions came out tiny and sensibly sized while they were served a platter of food complete with french fries. My dish was exquisite, but my inner child was frothing at the mouth and wanting to tear into those burgers sitting next to me with reckless abandon. In a word, I felt a bit primal in that moment. In truth, we rarely eat meat at home, but years of childhood burgers came flooding back to me in that instant and I just wanted to take a bite. Granted, I’m a decade or sometimes two older than my lunch companions, so that doesn’t help much. These days, most of what I crave is something that’s only in my dreams.
When I was a kid, we’d have hamburgers only on rare occasions. Perhaps that’s what makes them so special in my mind. Hamburger night was quite an event and made even better if it came with thick cut steak fries. Those were always my favorite. I actually love potatoes so it was nice to be able to actually taste a bit of the interior. The tiny fries are all just fried outer crust. As an adult, I soon learned that if you don’t eat red meat a lot you’ll lose the enzyme to actually digest it properly. This translates to having a burger only a handful of times of year for nostalgia’s sake and having bits of pineapple nearby afterwards to aid in digestion. This is a trick that Philippe found for me, which surprisingly works. Yes, it’s quite a bit of effort for a food I should probably simply avoid, but it’s a hamburger! I can’t possibly believe I’m so old that I can’t enjoy a touch of what brought me here in the first place. Wonderful memories of being happy at the simplest of inventions.
Other equally calorie-unfriendly sandwiches of my youth consisted of grilled cheese and my personal favorite, the grilled cheese and fried bologna sandwich. This was amazing. You had to cut the circular bologna slices before frying them or they’d pop up like a little hat. This was combined with melted American cheese and squashed between some toast. A culinary nightmare that would make Philippe cringe, but it was so delicious! While I’m pleased that I’ve grown up when it comes to food choices, as there are so many wonderful dishes that don’t cause heart attacks, I’m still fond of remembering the tastes of my youth. I was a bit chubby in those days, and looking back it’s quite easy to see why, but I still have fond memories. Those were the treats that made ordinary nights special. The ones that came out of the blue and make me feel thrilled and happy. Life is simply about having a bit of balance in the end. At each end of the seesaw there’s something decadent and wonderful to grab for just a moment before returning to life as usual. So, today, I’m grabbing out with my imagination and traveling back to a time when life was nothing more complex than hamburger dreams.
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Da Vinci Paint Co.: Quinacridone Red, Leaf Green, Yellow Ochre, Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
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