People always asked me, what is your favorite food?

What do you like to cook best? What was the most memorable meal you have ever eaten?

There are so many varieties of foods and the ways that they are prepared that I love, it is hard to choose. I am sure I will be trying many more in the future.

As to cooking, I truly love it all. When I find a food or cooking technique, I try and find that people enjoy it as much as I do preparing it, that is my favorite that day.

Now to my most memorable all-time favorite meal, that is easy -- Thanksgiving 1954. It is as vivid today as it was then. I remember my mother had volunteered my services to a local youth group to help deliver food on Thanksgiving Day. I was very upset I would have to give up most of the day lugging food somewhere instead of playing with friends and being off from school for the day.

She dropped me off at the center. Several adults directed me and other students from different schools as to how to pack food in boxes. I followed their directions, not very happy to be there at all, and hoping it would be over soon. The leader of the center divided us into groups of two students and one adult to a car to hand deliver the food to specific places. I remember being more aggravated because now we would be out the remainder of the day and I would have no time to enjoy myself.

We drove to a section of town I had never seen before, and we carried a box of food to the front door. We knocked and a man answered the door. When he saw us, he shouted to the rest of his family to come help with the food. The mother and two small children came running all excited.

It was then that I notice the house itself. There was a sofa with no legs on one side and stuffing coming out of it, two chairs and no TV. You could see the ground under the house through the old wood floorboards, and there were many holes in the walls and newspapers in the window that had no glass. I almost ran out of the house when I saw a small rat run from behind the couch.

We made several more deliveries and it was the same at each place. We finally came to the last stop and I mentioned the last box of food did not have a turkey. I was told it was all right because this person did not have a stove or refrigerator and we would only give her canned food. We drove to a wooded lot that had a tar paper shack with dirt floor and a fire pit in the middle. An elderly women came out and thanked us, then disappeared inside.

I was taken home and thoughts of what I had seen that day washed over me as we drove. I walked into our home and the smell of turkey, sweet potato pies and fresh baked bread filled the air. The house looked so much bigger than it had that morning for some reason.

My mother came to me, looked into my eyes and gave me a huge hug. She never said a word and rushed back into the kitchen to finish dinner. Later we all sat down, and we enjoyed the best meal I have ever eaten. The turkey had never been so moist and good. Potatoes, gravy, salads and even broccoli that I never ate tasted so wonderful.

What was my all-time favorite meal -- Thanksgiving dinner at home in 1954!

Here is my favorite recipe:

•A big batch of family and friends

•A dollop of food traditions

•A dash of good will, sharing and appreciation of life

•Mix well until a memory is born that lasts a lifetime

Costa Magoulas is dean of the Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management at Daytona State College. Contact him at (386) 506-3578 or costa.magoulas@daytonastate.edu.

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