I love food. I love cookbooks. I love Food TV. As I type this, I'm watching Ina Garten finish up a key lime pie for Jeffrey just before he walks into the door.
In honor of my 40th year, here's a list of 40 entirely devoted to my love of food.
1. I trace my love of Mexican food back to the days of being a small small kid and going out to eat every Friday night at the Taco Palace on 39th Street. The place is long gone, but in my mind I can still smell the chips. Of course, years later, my parents said we stopped going there because we started getting sick every week, but I'll always love you Taco Palace, a name that combined my love of Mexican food and all things royal.
2. Fred Gangs on 23rd Street. I have been a vegetarian for 20+ years, but if I could go back in time to my 90 lbs., 12 year old self and the opportunity to eat one of their giant burgers with cheese, avocado, bacon and olives, I would not hesitate.
3. My college graduation. I went to Henry Hudson's after. I know I had a tequila sunrise. I know I had one other drink. And nachos. How did my 110 lbs. self handle that? The next morning I went to Jimmy's Egg with my dad and had a waffle and bacon. Oh how I wish I could still eat like that.
4. Getting ice cream at Braum's after special events like dance recitals and piano recitals. Strawberry Cheesecake.
5. Speaking of ice cream, the place I cannot remember the name of where they would bring family- size sundaes out to your table in a kitchen sink.
6. One of the best meals I've ever eaten. The Elote Cafe in Sedona, Arizona. It was a lovely New Year 2010 celebration with the Pastor.
7. Eating a hot dog at the Texas Motor Speedway, tailgating before a Nascar race. My Dad telling me after the fact that he thought he had mistakenly given me one of the real hotdogs and not one of the vegetarian ones.
8. J. J. Tippins. Oh how I miss you. French Onion soup. Your thick, giant corn bread with honey butter. And the pie? French Silk? Dutch Apple? It was all good. The giant salad too.
9. All the wonderful times I've been to In-N-Out Burger. No meat for me, but In-N-Out can make a grilled cheese that good. I knew the french fries were wonderful, but it changed my life the day I found out you would put cheese and dressing on the fries. Delicious milkshakes.
10. Eating at On the Border with the Pastor on a non-date when we were "just friends." He talked on the phone nearly the whole time and we had tortilla soup with extra crispy things and extra cheese. It's a good thing that we were "just friends" because there's no way I would have put up with a date like that. : ) He touched my arm on the way out the door. I thought it might have meant something but later I found out that was just his "non-threatening elbow touch."
11. A New Year's Day meal at the Grand Canyon lodge with the Pastor. The food, the view, the Waiter, the rainbow taco dessert - it was magical.
12. Getting to eat at one of my faves - Big Bowl - in Chicago with the Pastor, Nate and 3Ven. Fresh Ginger Ginger Ale and Mongolian BBQ.
13. Cheever's Cafe. I've been there too many times to count with the Pastor. Wedge Salads. Rolls and real butter. Juan Queso Chihuahua which is a bowl of cheesy mexican goodness. And the desserts! Giant cakes. Ice Cream balls.
14. Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans. Fried dough and a powdered sugar bath. What more could a girl want?
15. Ted's Cafe Escondido. The spicy atomic sauce with chunks of avocado. Homemade tortillas. Cheese Enchiladas with no onions and sour cream sauce. I eat here at least twice a month. At one point the relationship was so serious that we had a picture of one of the waitresses hanging on our fridge. Of course she had given us her engagement picture, we were helping to finance the wedding with our tips.
16. Ingrid's German Restaurant. I don't know what your heaven looks like, but mine includes a never ending supply of their thumbprint cookies.
17. Getting to spend the night at my grandparents. Getting to stop at 7-11 on the way and get an Icee drink and a giant Butterfinger.
18. Getting to eat fish tacos and portobello mushroom tacos at Rubio's. Another thing I always look forward to when we go to Cali or Arizona.
19. Thanksgiving 2009 when I prepared the Williams Sonoma meal.
20. I would never say no to a chocolate cupcake with the white frosting and chocolate chips from Gigi's.
21. The good ol' days when I could eat Hardee's Biscuits and Gravy with Hash Rounds. Now I know you can't eat a breakfast that contains more fat than I should eat in a month.
22. My Great Aunt Hazel's pea salad with chunks of cheddar cheese. Of course I don't have the recipe.
23. The oatmeal cookies I force my Mom to make for my b-day every year. I've been known to be a selfish hoarder with these, but I've been pretty generous this year. I've been one of those people who, what do you call it, oh yes - shares!
24. Discovering I could make my own fettucini alfredo. And sauteed mushrooms. And artichokes.
25. Starbucks coming to town. Before Starbucks, we got a Barnes & Noble and that was my first taste of the nectar of the goddesses, the Caramel Macchiato.
26. Some ethnic restaurant the Pastor and I ate at when we went to Brooklyn, New York. I couldn't tell you what ethnicity. I couldn't tell you what we ate. But it was good.
27. Eating at the Greek Festival every year. I usually get a dinner and a pastry sampler box. I try my best to split the pastries with mom, I eat half that night and the other half the next morning for breakfast.
28. The fish-n-chips, Parker House rolls and Boston Cream Pie at the Parker House Hotel, the place where John Kennedy proposed to Jackie, and where the Pastor and I had a delightful meal.
29. Getting to eat a cupcake, cannoli and sample goodies at the Cake Boss bakery.
30. Eating at the oldest bakery in Texas. Not that special.
31. The Horsey cookies at Clark's Pastry Shop. It's within walking distance. However, walking over there doesn't justify eating that many cookies.
32. My newest obsession. Yes, I get fixated on restaurants and I want to eat there over and over and over again. The Ghengis Grill. More Mongolian Bar-B-Q.
33. I love Thai food. Super spicy. Tofu. Potatoes. Some kind of curry sauce. Rice.
34. Thin crust pizza from Papa John's. Light sauce. Extra cheese, of course. Then all vegetables except onions. Add some of their garlic dipping sauce.
35. How could I not include Pei Wei? When Pei Wei opened in October, 2004, I had just lost my job and my boyfriend, the Pastor and I ate there every single day the first week they opened. It's usually Dan Dan Noodles with extra sauce and veggies on the side for the Pastor. Kids meal for me - Honey Seared Tofu and Brown Rice. Edamame. Lately we've thrown in some crab wontons. Always two fortune cookies, which determines everything about our future.
36. Every time I see Kentucky Fried Chicken I think about being pregnant with Nate and craving it. Nate's always loved chicken.
37. Everything about this list explains my 8 year relationship with Weight Watchers.
38. Fried Pickles from Sonic. Why did they take these off the menu? Of course they wouldn't be complete without a Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper.
39. The hand-cut french fries at VZD's. With a grilled cheese with their spicy mayo, tomatoes and pickles.
40. A new love. The Republic. A bag of yummy cake donut holes for dessert, with three different dipping sauces.
I could go on. I certainly didn't have any trouble thinking of 40 things for this one!
This list helps me to know deep in my heart I could never commit murder. Because if I did, there's no way I could ever narrow down a last meal before they executed me. See? My love of food makes the world a safer place.