Every once in a while, my Dad gets to reminiscing about some great dish he ate at some point during his lifetime, which gets me to thinking about the same topic. While this can be a fun exercise, often I hit upon the melancholy memory of foods I've enjoyed but will never get to taste again. Everyone has them - what are yours? Some of mine:
Chung's Pork Fried Rice - Chung's was a dinky Chinese carry-out on Cold Spring Lane, across and down the street from Alonso's. They had the best pork fried rice ever. The roast pork tasted fresh, not like it had been sitting in the back of the refrigerator for a few weeks (I'm looking at you, every restaurant that serves fried rice instead of white with their cheap lunch specials), there was a decent amount of vegetable bits, and the grease-to-rice quotient was perfect. Sometimes, when Dad and I were out running errands, we'd stop at Chung's for a quart of PFR and eat it in the car, parked right there in front of the restaurant.
Arbaugh's Ribs - there may be better rib joints in the area today (Andy Nelson's, for one) but I have such good memories of driving down to DC with the family expressly to eat ribs and cole slaw at this Connecticut Avenue institution.
Haussner's "Lobster Dainties" and Strawberry Pie - No matter how many items Highlandtown's Haussner's had on their menu, I always ordered the same thing: lobster dainties, fried eggplant, and stewed tomatoes. The lobster dish was simple - chunks of meat swimming in butter. Why wrestle with the shell if you don't have to? And strawberry pie was my favorite treat as a child, particularly the slices of toasted almond on top. Thankfully, this recipe means that I could still prepare the pie at home, even if it wouldn't be quite the same.
Maison Marconi's Hot Fudge Sundaes - Despite promises to re-open Marconi's on Charles Street, destroyer-of-the-Orioles Peter Angelos never kept his word. With the closing of this piece of Baltimore history, we lost the delectable hot fudge sauce, served separately from its companion bowl of ice cream in order not to melt it. But who needed the ice cream at all?
and of course....
My Mom's Cooking - Mom died in 2001, a few months after my wedding. She always claimed to hate cooking, but when she stopped using cookbooks and started winging it in the mid-80s, she concocted some pretty amazing dishes. I'm sorry I never did learn the secret seasonings in her stuffed pork chops (although I suspect dried mustard and minutely chopped raisins), nor have I mastered her baked macaroni and cheese. I could try to recreate them, but without Mom around, there'd be no magic.
Some things are probably best left to memory.