This memorable meal took place when Ben and I were barely first dating [if you could even call it that], when he spontaneously offered me a ride home to Carson City from San Diego. We were planning to hike and camp a night in the Sierras, and stopped for an hour or so at his parents' in Orange County. I met his parents for the first time as well as his visiting uncle - I can still picture myself looking up from the couch at all their lively banter, observing the warm family dynamic. His grandfather, who was 100 and only about a month from the end of his life was taking a nap back in the adjoining apartment. At the time, I wished I could meet him, knowing what an important part of the family he was and having a funny feeling that Ben and I were starting something serious.
Ben's mom sent us on the road with sandwiches which we unwrapped just as we neared the turnoff to 395 - that amazingly beautiful and nostalgic stretch of highway that we both love so much. It was the kind of sandwich that you know you can't replicate for yourself - always better when someone else makes it. A baguette with a good, rustic crust and chewy center, roasted turkey, avocado, maybe either sun-dried or roasted tomatoes, crispy romaine, a healthy amount of mayonnaise and the right amount of salt and pepper. I remember savoring every bite, cognizant that it was made by hands that knew simple and good wholesome food and by a woman who loves her children and is thoughtful and caring enough to send them off in such a way. I had a feeling I would feel right at home in this family :)
This is the picture my roommates ran out and snapped as we were leaving. I was, of course, mortified at the time but thankful now that I have it.