There I was, with my wife, enjoying wine as inexpensive as water. It was our honeymoon and we were relaxed, free, and feeling an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. We placed an order for a ham sandwich in broken Spanish, then sat back looking outward towards the ocean as waited for our food to arrive.
What brought us to San Sebastian was the food. It's hailed as having the most Michelin Star restaurants per capita, and a place we'd seen on countless food and travel programs on TV. We'd already been in San Sebastian a few days and the food was all that we imagined: spectacularly fresh and available at all times, even to grandmothers and children at midnight. The whole town seemed to celebrate food, celebrate life, and we knew we had found our people.
When the sandwich we ordered at this cafe arrived it was beautiful - three slices of lightly toasted bread with pieces of ham peeking out the edges, and this sunny orange yolk floating right on top. It wasn't simply lying on top of the bread, though; the bread actually had a hole cut out of it, just the perfect size of the yolk. So perfect, my wife and I questioned for a moment how they might have done it. What came first? The hole in the bread? Or the cracked egg? I would later learn that this technique is called an "egg in a basket" but this was the first time I'd seen it.
We didn't debate the issue very long. I snapped a couple pictures (before Instagram was around) and then we sliced open the sandwich, allowing the bright yolk to flow over and down the sides of the sandwich. We took a bite and it was amazing.
San Sebastian is the type of place where you can write a whole post about an egg on a sandwich, because it's the type of place that takes the time to perfect something so mundane and it's the type of place where you take the time to enjoy it. We were far away from the hustle and bustle of our American culture, doing what sometimes seem so hard to actually do on vacation... relax. We unwound to the waves as they rhythmically crashed on the beach, felt the breeze rush past our hair at a similar cadence, and enjoyed the food, the wine, and our own company. We could have been the only people in the whole cafe, on the entire beach, or in all of San Sebastian.
This moment during an afternoon lunch set the mood for the rest of our trip: take your time, appreciate the details, savor the moment. When I all too often get caught up in the daily pressures and fast paced life I've carved for myself I close my eyes and think back to beach, the cafe, this sandwich, and that egg. Sometimes I can almost even taste it.
What's your favorite food memory? Is there a special moment that reminds you to take it easy and savor life?
Related: How To Fry an Egg the Spanish Way
(Images: Chris Perez)