The Burger King at a service station in Florida on route from Miami to Orlando at the age of 8. The pulled pork and burnt ends accompanied by five sides – yes, five – at Bodean’s with my friend Harry, washed down with beers, margaritas and finished off with a couple bottles of cheap wine in Soho. The granola with yoghurt and apple compote in Siem Reap, Cambodia, after three weeks of nondescript scrambled eggs and bad bread for breakfast through Laos.
The lightest cream-filled meringue…things my mum and I spent 45 minutes searching for in Paris, then smashing brie into a torn apart baguette with a plastic knife and our fingers on the Eurostar back to London. The Full English my friend Jamie would cook for us every year before SW4 festival in our mid twenties, chased down with cider. The packed lunch baguettes my dad would make us for trips to the beach on holidays in Europe – ham with the freshest, reddest, juiciest tomatoes, salt and – inevitably – sand.
The best meals you’ve ever eaten won’t necessarily have been Michelin starred, but I bet you remember who you were with, where you sat (or stood, for that matter) and I bet you can still remember how it tasted. I bet you remember how you felt afterward. Fast food off an American highway? Unorthodox, sure, but I will never forget how good that burger tasted, how hungry we had been on such a long journey. It’s the first distinct memory I have of savouring and really enjoying what I was eating.
Good food is at the heart of a life well lived. First we eat, then everything else.