Growing up, Sunday was my favorite day of the week. In our house, those days started with a big breakfast, followed by a big lunch with dinner always being popcorn. We loved it, the tradition, the taste of the buttery, salty popcorn in a big ol’ bottomless kettle my family happily scarfed down while watching a movie. I still remember being a cheeky teenager and responding to my Dad’s “One at a time kiddo” by promptly shoving a handful of popcorn into my mouth sending kernels flying as I said “I am Dad, one handful at a time.”
Somehow, when you grow up and leave your family home, there are things that always stick with you, sense memories that last a lifetime. A love for Sunday is one of those things for me, as is the vivid memory of sitting down to meals with my family and if I’m being totally honest a love for salty foods. It must have been the sprinkling of Maldon salt I used on this dish of figs, goat cheese, fresh mint, honey and olive oil that brought these feelings, a taste memory if you will, flooding back this Sunday.
For over 13 years now, I have literally lived 500 plus miles away from the family I grew up with. Yet still, I take all the warmth I remember from family meals on Sunday’s into my family home with my Husband. Especially since the sum total of the small, tight and loving family my Husband grew up with is over 3964 miles, $1,000 and 10 hours away in Italy.
With both of our families so far away and only a few days out of the year shared with them around a table, I knew how important talking and relaxing together, over good food and wine would be for my Husband and I. Even while working full-time in the overly demanding media world in New York City, I put a good dinner on the table every single night and took pride in doing so. In time, this helped define us not just as a couple but as a family.
With limited budget and time, I found myself realizing rather quickly that one special dish went a long way in making an entire meal memorable. These dishes are usually my favorite. They tend to flow from a base of what’s in the fridge into a creative area of what could this become. I aim for balance of flavors (salty, savory, sweet, rarely sour but sometimes spicy) try new combinations and surprise myself more and more as time goes on. In the end, if I taste my idea and think Bello is gonna love this, I’m happy and ultimately so is he.
The fig dish feature above is a classic example. No real recipe here, just the prep of slicing the figs, laying them out on a serving plate and crumbling a little goat cheese on top. A drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil followed by equal amount of honey, a sprinkling of fresh mint for my tiny porch garden and some Maldon sea salt to balance it all out. Completely delicious, totally easy.
I am lucky in that when I put effort into a plate my Husband notices it, he mentions it and thanks me. He knows it’s not just food, it’s a way for me to say I love you, you’re my family. Life might get busy and certain things may at times be hard, but let’s enjoy this together. Our journey together is a creative one on both sides, thankfully it’s also a tasty one that keeps bringing us closer.