Twenty-five years ago, as of yesterday, I had the very best steak sandwich.
To be honest, I wasn’t hungry at the time. It was well past dinner time, past 8 o’clock at night even. There’s no real reason that a steak sandwich should have even been offered, and yet, it was the right thing to have.
Having a meal is only partly about the food itself, especially when you are with other people. There’s an atmosphere to the room, both physically and the emotions of those around you. It has a lot to do with what’s going on around you sometimes, sure.
I remember stopping at a local cajun place when I was on the way to Alabama a number of years ago. In that case, it was the physical atmosphere of this Louisiana restaurant that was fascinating. The live cajun band was howling away in the corner. Business cards by the thousands were pinned to the low ceiling, and the fried food just kept coming.
Thanks to the atmosphere, that was the best fried food I’ve ever had.
I remember just this past year, while at a seemingly normal breakfast at a typical restaurant chain, that I had the best breakfast.
It wasn’t the pancakes, or the eggs, or even the coffee. Not that the food was bad, it was just fine. But I was surrounded by friends, all relaxing away from an event. We spent that whole breakfast laughing so hard, laughing with each other. It was one of those times where you really don’t want it to end.
That was probably the best breakfast I’ve ever had.
Twenty-five years ago, from last night at least, I sat down and had a steak sandwich with my father. He cooked it up, plated it while I sat there, and we ate in peace. There were no words between us, other than the typical thanks and such. What seemed to be odd, asking if I wanted a late steak sandwich, became peaceful and normal.
It was the last meal, and the last words, that I ever had with him. Over the years, I’ve always thought that in some way, in some unconscious light, he knew this would be our last time together.
It really was the best steak sandwich I’ve ever had.