This is the menu for dinner on Friday, June 23, 1950 at Camp Curry in Yosemite Valley. I wasn't yet five and I don't remember the meal at all. (You can double click the photo to see the offerings more clearly.) But I do remember sheer walls rising above the valley, the big trees, the waterfalls, the deer in the meadows, and best of all, the firefall. In the evening during the campfire program, someone would yell up and someone would yell back down from the top of Glacier Point. I can still here the long faint, "Fiiiiire Faaaaaaaall" and see the glowing embers sliding down the side of the mountain. Firefall.info gives more specifics:
At 9:00 each evening in Camp Curry, the crowd which had gathered for the nightly campfire program, would fall silent. A man would call out to the top of Glacier Point "Let the Fire Fall!", and a faint reply could be heard from the top of the mountain. Then a great bonfire of red fir bark would be pushed evenly over the edge of the cliff, appearing to the onlookers below as a glowing waterfall of sparks and fire.[This site has a lot more information including memories of many people who watched the firefall.]He says the last firefall was in 1968.
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Here's a menu from the Los Angeles Brown Derby on Wilshire Blvd. My 6th grade class had a 'graduation' party there. The building was shaped like a brown derby hat and was considered a fancy restaurant. (I asked fineartsla for permission to use their picture of the building but haven't heard from them, but you can click on the link and see it.) I do not remember what I ate. It was being there that was special. And I recall we had trouble trying to figure out at the end who owed how much.
This is from a journal entry - Tuesday, Thessalonikki March 9, 1965. It was the year I was a student in Göttingen, Germany. We had two months off March and April and I'd hitchhiked to Vienna. I took the trains in Yugoslavia and after a week was more than ready to leave. The last day turned out to be the best. The ballet in Belgrade between trains where I met a Yugoslavian student, and we ate a great dinner, then got on the train that had no seats left and a Greek family pulled me into their compartment and fed me all the way to Thessalonikki. There I looked up a friend of a Greek student in Germany and he took me to this fantastic fish restaurant. No pictures, but it's in the journal. This was truly one of the best meals of my life. The food, the atmosphere, and the company. Let me correct the journal. The seaman didn't eat alone. He shared his lobster with a cat.
J and I were in Beijing for a month in July 1990. I was doing research on an article and we were staying at the People's University with wonderful people. At that time, there weren't very many restaurants in Beijing and finding them wasn't easy. The Dean knew where they were and took us to several. Then he learned that I liked spicy food and suggested we go to this Sichuan Restaurant. They day we settled on turned out to be my birthday and I insisted on paying. He wouldn't hear that until I insisted it was an American tradition to treat your friends on your birthday. (You have to resort to subterfuge to pay when with Chinese friends in China.)
In the end, we had dinner for twelve. The dean ordered the many course meal, and it was incredible. It was in a private room in an old Chinese house. It was a wonderful evening with good friends, good food, amazing atmosphere. The bill - including everything - was just under $100. (Des, can you translate the menu?) I might be able to find some pictures of this meal. If I do, I'll add them later.
As I wrote this it became clear that for me, a memorable meal includes good friends, good food, and good ambiance. There have been many other memorable meals, but these are ones that showed up while working on the clutter downstairs.