Good food owes everything to context

The best anything I ever had was a can of soda, thrown to me in the water where I’d been diving for the better part of a day. My mouth was salty from the seawater taste of my mouthpiece and the dry air from my regulator. The cool sweetness of the soda pop was an olfactory relief never to be rivaled. Ask me now, treading water next to an outrigger, negotiating the waves of the South China Sea, and splashing a Sprite over my mouth, nothing better.

I came to understand this context principle later while camping in the Ozarks with my uncle. After a long hike, making chicken and rice soup over the fire, by combining every freeze-dried ingredient we had, made the best meal I’d ever tasted.

This principle explains man’s imbibing of alcohol entirely. Drinking wine is nothing but context. Alone, wine is a tartish experiment. With a meal it’s chemistry. Ice water is irrigation.

I’ve since improved upon the ultimate repast. Spaghetti with olive oil and fresh Parmesan, shoveled into your mouth from a mixing bowl on your chest as you recline watching a film. I foresaw my destiny as a bachelor when I admitted this was my Saturday Night ne plus ultra.

How to improve upon such elevated culinary expectations? I tried that once too. Unfiltered pear juice, in a hot shower, while peeing. Probably it was just too easy to orchestrate.

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