I asked 100 people about their best memories around food

One of my favorite memories is sitting around my dining room table with my college friends, eating a white truffle pizza that hung over the edges of the table because it was too big to fit. Although it’s true that the pizza tasted amazing – truffle oil and mozzarella over a white sauce base, with runny eggs on top – that memory is one of my favorites because it represented a really happy phase of my life, as well as the fact that I was surrounded by people that I loved. I think about this memory a lot whenever I have to wait in line for food, because time is precious – there are only so many hours in a day, and so many days in a lifetime, and if I’m going to spend time waiting, shouldn’t it be for a great memory?

But what makes a great experience – in this case, when it comes to food? Was it the food itself? The company? The atmosphere? An event that served as a backdrop for the meal? In an age where we endlessly pursue Instagramable meals, I asked 100 people what their favorite food memory was, wondering what they would say, and here are 15 of the best (these have been lightly edited for clarity):

  1. “Eating sundaes with my best friend at a place named Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor. We were about 13 at the time and asked for more whipped cream because not much was on them. This annoyed our waitress. She brought back our sundaes with a ridiculous amount of whipped cream on them. We both laughed so hard we peed ourselves in the booth.
  2. My favorite food memory is when my mom would make tacos. It was the one meal that everyone agreed on and loved. We would get so excited when we smelled the tortilla shells cooking. She would make everything from scratch and it was usually for a celebration or special occasion. We would put all the condiments on a Lazy Susan and spin it around to fill up our tacos. As children, we found this endlessly entertaining and it was the only meal that we really got to serve ourselves and make the food as we wanted it.
  3. My favorite food memory was a few weeks ago when I was sick. My son, who is 11 and loves to cook, knew my allergies were bothering me. While I was laying down, he decided to cook me a steak and smashed potatoes and then he plated it so it looked very nice. He wanted me to feel special because I rarely have a fancy meal anymore after my divorce. Although we were only at home, the fact that he took the initiative to do it and then sat down and ate with me was so thoughtful and sweet.
  4. My sister and I were visiting our aunt and uncle in California. My uncle returned home one day with a flat of strawberries and that’s when it happened. Two of my cousins disappeared into the kitchen; one for a bowl of sour cream and the other for a bowl of brown sugar (It was clear; they had done this before). They then demonstrated the most divine way to enjoy fresh strawberries by dipping them first into the sour cream and then into the brown sugar. This is my favorite food memory.
  5. My favorite food memory is eating Christmas dinner with my grandparents in 1997. We had baked ham and chicken and noodles and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. It is my favorite memory as it was the last Christmas I got to spend with my Grandpa before he passed away. We were at my mother’s house when we had that meal.
  6. There was a Halloween many years ago when my husband made the most delicious chili he’s ever made and he’s never been able to recreate it. He and I and my son ate the chili and watched Frankenweenie for the holiday and there was just something special about it that I can’t even explain that makes that Halloween one I particularly remember.
  7. It was my 10th Birthday and my parents brought me and my friend to a Carvel’s Ice Cream shop. It was a surprise when they told me we were going. I got to pick whatever I wanted. My friend and I giggled and giggled. I was so happy and excited. I ordered this big fish bowl of ice cream and so many toppings, like 8 different varieties. We got two spoons and my friend and I sat at this round little table and dug in. It was so good. The ice cream was the best, so creamy. We did not even eat half the bowl. It was the best. My parents sat at a table next to us and kept smiling. I was happy, so happy that we came and I got to pick anything. I do remember I thought I would have to leave the rest of the sundae. My mom came over with this big dish and scooped it all up for me to take home. What a great day. What a great birthday.
  8. When I was 5 year old, my family didn’t have a lot of money and my parents struggled to put food on the table. However my mother still managed to make a sponge cake for my birthday.
  9. I went to a baseball game with my mom and got nachos served in a helmet. I saw someone with them and had to get it also. We searched and only one stand was selling it. They tasted great and I had a great time with my mom. Thinking about the food that day makes me smile.
  10. I ate at the Moon Thai restaurant with my girlfriend and had Pad Thai. It was the most delicious thing I ever ate in my life. It was memorable because I was the first American to order the dish with the spice level of Thai Hot. It was a mistake the next day when the heat passed through me and burned immensely.
  11. My favorite food memory is making homemade cookies at Christmas with my mom. I helped her mix the ingredients in the kitchen and press the cookies onto the sheets. She made these chocolate cream cheese caramel cookies that I still don’t know how to make. It was special because it made me love baking and I got to spend time with my mom.
  12. My favorite food memory is going out to eat at the waffle house with my dad. We would go there and eat waffles and breakfast foods on Sundays. It’s special to me because my dad died last year so I am very sentimental about it.
  13. I’d just arrived in London on a red eye and I was tired, thirsty and hungry. We walked around for over an hour before finally finding a burger place. The burger was one of the best I’d ever had and I doubt I’ll be able to replicate the taste or experience ever again.
  14. Eating popcorn with my ex boyfriend because I was brand new to NYC and it was so exciting.
  15. The first time my daughter and I made curry together. My daughter loves curry and I love to cook. It was a very special moment because she showed interest in cooking and it was something I could teach her. It was a moment we shared together, just the two of us.