I remember my very first meal in Italy. I'd landed in Milan in a sleepy haze, crammed myself and my too-big luggage onto the cheap car of the first train headed to Venice, and dropped my bags in a tiny room with stone walls and a view over a canal. We turned left out of our inn and sat down at the first taverna with red checkered tablecloths that was serving early to jet-lagged tourists. I don't remember ordering or waiting, but I remember the steaming plate of linguini with salmon and a tomato cream sauce and a brown pottery jug of the house red wine that was cool to the touch.
In Vietnam we'd been exploring the brown waters of the Mekong Delta by boat all afternoon. It was hot, humid, hazy, sticky. We got out of the boat and followed our guide down a narrow dirt path through thick green foliage. We ducked under huge bumpy jackfruits hanging from the branches above, and passed bunches of green bananas waiting to be picked. We were led through the open-air kitchen of a two-room concrete house and out onto the porch, where we collapsed in white plastic chairs pulled up to a table. With a wide smile, the sweet woman who lived in this modest house brought out a feast of the fruits that her husband had harvested, slices of pineapple and papaya, piles of brown longans and red spiky rambutans. She showed us how to squeeze lime juice into a dish of salt and red pepper, and then dip the sweet fruits into this sour-salty-spicy mixture.
We plan to take lots of pictures of our meals on our upcoming trip since I know that it's those images, and not the ones of beautiful scenery, that will evoke the most vivid memories years from now.