Sometimes it is the very simple things in life that are very satisfying--such as chicken and potatoes. I decided to roast some chicken with some red skinned potatoes tonight, both roasting in the same pan, the potatoes receiving some flavor from the chicken as it cooked (it had been grilled previously and was sitting in the fridge waiting to be used). So, I put them in a roasting pan of the old fashioned variety and roasted the chicken for 30 minutes (as it had been previously grilled) and then let the potatoes go an extra 15 minutes. Both were done and I placed them on my plate (I am dining alone tonight) and allowed the juices from the potatoes to be on my plate too. I prepared a tomato and basil salad to go with it and poured a glass of white wine and then ahhhhhhhh, all was right with the world.
I remember a similar dinner that a couple had back in 2001 at a little cafe on a street called St. Germain in Paris. They were very tired from looking around and sat down at a table and attempted to order a meal with the waiter and as their knowledge of the French language was tres petite they ordered the special which was written on the board standing near the sidewalk. I think it said "poulet et frites" which sounded very glamourous to two tired Texans but it was just chicken and potatoes. The couple sat at the table and watched Paris go by, up and down that boulevard, and then the meal arrived--each received a quarter of a chicken and potatoes accompanied by some bread. The man had a glass of white wine to go with it and the woman had a famous French drink called Coca-Cola. (You know you are in a great country when Coke costs more than wine...go figure.) It may have been only chicken and potatoes but the meal was magical. The couple declared it was the best chicken and potatoes they had ever eaten. Perhaps eating it in one of the most famous cities in the world in a sidewalk cafe had something to do with it but the satisfaction of that meal stayed with them for the years to follow.
As I ate my roasted chicken and potatoes by myself tonight, I thought about that magical evening now ten years ago. The memory of that event seemed to be connected to the flavors on my tongue tonight. I seemed to be able to connect with that wonderful European experience due to some memory jogging flavorful sensation right here in my own home.
How many times do we think that simple pleasures are not as valuable as the big events of life? We say to ourselves, "It is only a weekday meal. It is nothing special" but there may be something contained in that simple meal that one day will jog our memory and we will have an emotional response connected to it. We may laugh or cry or feel very mellow, as I did in regard to that Paris meal ten years ago. We may find a delayed response of satisfaction connected to that memory and we may suddenly pause and give silent thanks for the event and the memory of that event.
I love my friends and will love them across the years. I will always remember the good times we shared around tables and in restaurants and in fellowship halls and in countries far and near. Something one day will remind me of a specific time and place and I will be thankful that we had that time and experience together. A shared experience with others binds us together for all time. We can call up those memories and others cannot relate to them because they were not there to share them with us. Perhaps the simple times are the best because we lodge them away in our minds and one day they surprise us and visit us once again to remind us of how good life has been to us.