A Perfect Meal

by Nancy Casey

The Thanksgiving season is upon us. The holiday represents many things, and it differs for different people, but the one thing all the celebrations seem to have in common is eating.

Some people are enthusiastically planning meals. Others are dreading and dodging invitations. Some folks revel in the chance to overeat, while others will only be nibbling tiny bites.

But we all eat. Hopefully 365 days a year. All the pressures of the perfect Thanksgiving aside, what is your idea of a perfect meal?

The obvious way to consider perfection in a meal is by imagining the food or foods it will have in it. Do you have a stand-out food that makes a meal feel perfect every time you eat it? Are you someone who loves so many foods that they couldn’t possibly fit into a single meal? You could write about an imaginary perfect meal that would be impossible to eat at one sitting.

Beyond food, there are many other ways that perfection can slip into a meal.

Maybe what makes a meal good to you is the company you are eating with, who they might be, what they have in common with you, what they say, how they behave. Perhaps you find that you yourself alone makes the best company of all—why would that be? Maybe your best meals are eaten with a pet nearby.

Another way that perfection can slip into a meal is the context. The place where you eat can influence your appreciation of the meal—the sights, the sounds, the smells. Think of favorite forks and spoons, plates and cups, a favorite table or chair, the best lighting or view.

Sometimes what makes a meal so good is that a certain person cooked it. Or the experience of several people cooking together. Some people say that their favorite food is anything that somebody else cooked. Other people only like their own cooking.

For some people, the gathering of ingredients is the best part—shopping, gardening, gleaning. Or maybe the cutting, chopping and stirring. Or the place you cook it.

What if your favorite meal is one you don’t have to eat? Or full of foods that aren’t good for you? Then maybe you’ll focus on the complications of living in a society where so many people are focused on effortless eating.

Think about the interesting parts of your relationship with food as you set up your page. Draw a line across the top where your title will go. You can also draw a box or blob that you’ll use for illustration. Or leave space to decorate a border around your work.

Begin writing by describing some kind of perfect meal according to your standards. Delve into any aspect of it, from eating partners to recipes or doing the dishes. If all the details you can think of don’t fill the page, think of another type of meal you find compelling and describe that one, too

When you feel like you’ve written enough, stop. If there’s still room on the page, fill it with drawing or decoration.

When the page is full, look it over carefully and make small changes if you like. When a title idea floats to the surface of your mind, write it at the top of the page.

Write the date on the page too, along with a signature or your initials.

Here is an example of what someone could write.

You can share your work by posting it as a comment below. You can type it in, or take a photo of it and upload the image.


Nancy Casey has lived in Latah County for many years. You can find more of her work here. If you would like some help with your writing, contact Nancy or the Latah Recovery Center. In-person Write-for You classes have been suspended for now, but when Covid recedes, they will return.

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