Inextricable Memories: Food and Friends

One of my best friends, Dean, passed away three years ago this month.

I met Dean in college. We were lab partners with another friend, Kim, in chemistry, and then again in organic chemistry. Admittedly, none of us were great chemists, but the thing I remember most from that class was Thai food. For our study groups, we would order Thai food and have it delivered to campus, where we would chow down, joke, generally waste time, and do a nominal amount of studying. Dean always ordered pad prik king.

Dean was a foodie, no doubt about it. Merely mention any American chain restaurant in his presence, and his nose would wrinkle as if you had suggested eating dog poo freshly scraped off the bottom of a sewage worker’s shoe. Discriminating taste was a hallmark of his life. He hunted down local restaurants, off-the-beaten-track cafes, and hole-in-the-wall diners with a thrilling vengeance. Each success in finding a good meal was, for him, a ferocious stab into the evil, beating heart of American chain restaurants and fast food.

Dean made the most obscenely divine cheesecake. He would make the crust out of gingersnaps, graham crackers being so dreadfully lowbrow. To this day, I still haven’t discovered his favorite place to get cheesecake – he refused to divulge the secret other than to say that it is somewhere in Las Vegas. We did discover what he termed a “fairly good” cheesecake at Madeline’s Steakhouse in Utah, which I counted as a victory because it was one of the few restaurants I introduced him to before he’d found it himself.

He was an all-around good cook, and he introduced me to Mark Bittman (awesome), Anthony Bourdain (unforgivably snooty booger of a man), and the fact that restaurants for foodies could more often be found in the pages of City Weekly rather than the Salt Lake Tribune. As a matter of fact, I recall him mercilessly mocking some of the food writers for the Trib. We had some pretty disastrous adventures in the murky waters of southeast Asian cooking, and then we decided that some dishes are really best left to the experts.

It’s funny how deeply memories with food ingrain themselves into my memory. Dean, if perchance you’re paying attention to my blog (I can only hope the internet still exists in the afterlife), I miss you. And you still owe me a cheesecake.

What are your food and friend memories? Or your food and family memories?

Love, peace, and dedication to the pursuit of good food,

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1 Comment

  1. You know how they say that smell is the strongest memory? (or whatever those people say…), I think it also goes with food, because it is also linked to two other sensory experiences: taste and sight.

    I have some great experiences with food. My husband is a fantastic cook, and he recently made a smoker out of a filing cabinet. I can still taste the barbecue sauce he made for the smoked turkey. It reminds me of summer, sun, laid back afternoons, friends, soda, and fun.


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