I have always had a love affair with big cities. Cities such as New York, Paris, Seattle and Los Angeles make me feel alive; the constant low hum of activity is electric. These cities rarely sleep; there is always movement, always a vibrant collection of people from all walks of life.
My first introduction to New York was at 19. My boyfriend’s (now husband) family invited me to join them on a business trip. At this point in time, I had rarely left the confines of my sleepy little Midwest town. The thought of spending time in one of the most vibrant, busy cities in the world was exciting, to say the least. New York did not disappoint. This was my first introduction to world-class cuisines and is essentially where my love affair with food began.
The second night in the city began with trying to hail a taxi to join my father-in-law’s business partner and family for dinner. We arrived at the restaurant; the main dining room had five tables. We were seated at one of the tables, white linens graced the tables and exposed brick patterned the walls. The waiters spoke with heavy Italian accents. Not quite sure how to act or what to say or do, I sat quietly and observed the environment.
The business partner had brought his extended family along for dinner. An older woman sat across from me and, seeing my apparent unfamiliarity with the situation, quietly poured me a glass of red wine. In a heavy Italian accent, she began to ask me about my life, my story. She told me about her family, Italy, and her journey in life. As we talked, the entrees began to come, large plates of cheese smothered lasagna, big bowls of freshly made focaccia, thin crust pizzas with fresh mozzarella, and spaghetti with the biggest meatballs I have ever seen! The dinner seemed to last for hours, the food was never ending. The spaghetti and meatballs still linger in my memory, the intoxicating smell of tomatoes, garlic, fresh herbs… All plated on a huge mound of perfectly al dente pasta.
Although my travels in New York seem like a lifetime ago the smell of spaghetti and meatballs instantly transports me back that moment.
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