The greatest of all time


Nothing is more infuriating than reading someone else’s list of rankings. I came to this realization while reading Rolling Stone’s “500 Best Albums of All Time,” which places the Beach Boy’s Pet Sounds above Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced, and Joni Mitchell’s Blue, as well as every other album in world history except for the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

After urging myself to calm down and breathe, I realized I could do something – I could make my own list. Because I know even less about music than Rolling Stone, I decided to pontificate about food. I wouldn’t call it “My Favorites” or “Things I Like,” because that would be accurate and fair, but neither provocative nor infuriating. Therefore I will call my list “The World’s Greatest Foods,” because who would know better than I – a lawyer who earns his living making confident assertions with no discernible basis?

The items on my list underwent a complex and rigorous process. First, I thought of a food. Then I wrote it down. I repeated this nine times until my list was done. Then I sat back to await the dittos and accolades that will surely follow. 

1. French fries. There are really no bad ones. I’m partial to the fresh russets bathed in duck fat at Grange in Ann Arbor, but those frozen puppies deep fried at the
Fleetwood or Fraser’s Pub do nicely. Fries are also excellent when dipped in a combination of ketchup, mustard, and/or Frank’s - or topped with cheese, onion and jalapenos.

2. There is no second place. Not even Pet Sounds.

3. The crab cakes at the Acropolis Restaurant in Baltimore. I went here for a memorial luncheon years ago after my aunt passed away. I was served a plate that included a giant mound of something the size of Floyd Mayweather’s fist. Being an “eat first and ask questions later” kind of guy, I took a bite and wondrously discovered the most fabulous crab cake in world history. Baltimoreans are no doubt scratching their heads as to why a Greek restaurant best prepares their local specialty.

4.  Morels. Having recently completed another season, there is nothing finer than a meal of these rare foraged delicacies, sliced and sautéed in butter with a touch of – yes, cinnamon – or simmered in a pot of homemade cream soup with other mushroom varieties.

5.  Lamb, especially Greek style, slowly roasted on the spit with garlic, oregano, thyme, rosemary, lemon and olive oil. When the skin gets real crispy, peel it off and pop it into your lucky mouth.

6.  Umeboshi plums. These are the pickled ume fruits native to Japan. Strong, salty and sour, it is said they will eat their way through aluminum lunch boxes. They can be eaten alone or as an enhancement with rice or other foods.

7. Medjool dates. These fat, wrinkled monsters can be eaten plain; with sweets such as rice pudding; or stuffed with savory treats like goat cheese and pistachios. Do not ever confuse these with their inferior cousins, Deglet Noor dates, which are smelly and resemble cockroaches.

8.  Feta cheese. It is the king of all cheeses, especially briny sheep’s milk feta, sharp and tangy, sitting proudly atop a fresh Greek village salad, bursting with summer tomatoes, cucumbers, and fat Kalamata olives. Feta is also essential in the most perfect omelette of all time, made with foods 9 and 10.

9.  Eggs, especially locally raised, having never been shut in a refrigerator before sizzling in the pan. A friend once said he liked to poach his; I felt sorry for him because he deprived himself of the butter that is necessary to properly fry an egg, or give scramblers their ineffable tenderness. And if you ever make me deviled eggs, I’ll be your friend forever.   

10.  Spinach, delicate and regal. Arab agronomist Ibn al-Awwam called it “the chieftain of leafy greens.” Take note, you aficionados of kale, which is more popular than spinach for the same unfathomable reason that Pet Sounds polled above Kind of Blue.

Honorable mention: Cincinnati chili, pecan pie a la mode, roasted cauliflower, Buffalo chicken wings, and tin roof sundaes with caramel sauce. What’s on your list?