One night in 1966, I was desperately searching for something to eat in Palo Alto. I made a mental inventory of the places on University and on El Camino, and all I could come up with was Jack-in-the-Box and Denny's. At the time, Jack was an enormous figure that was perched on a huge black spring attached to the top of a cube that sold bad hamburgers. I couldn't go in. Denny's was a well-lit wasteland. I couldn't go in there either. I didn't want a pizza. I didn't want a hamburger. What I really wanted was an empanada like I had last weekend in Santa Monica, for a couple of bucks, in an Argentinian hole in the wall with opera flyers on the bulletin board; but I didn't know it at the time. So I went hungry. I was a sophomore, after all.
When did it occur to you that you couldn't take the bad food that so many people settle for? Was is a particular meal (or as in my case, a non-meal) or an individual who opened your eyes?
Some years before the above incident, I had my first taste of good fresh french bread, in a little neighborhood in Sao Paulo Brazil. I was 13, newly arrived from Ohio, and a new friend showed me around, starting with the bakery down the block. We each bought a couple of dinner rolls, and munched them as we explored. I knew this was something special, and I loved it.
When did you know?
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