Hey Kids! Setting the way-back machine to the 70's for this one. I was living in Alabama at the time on an Air Force Base that was primarily used as a training/educational center. One thing that most people may not realize, but ever since WWII the U.S. military has direct military-to-military relationships with basically anyone who will have us (we are easy like that). These countries are not necessarily allies per se, but actual enemies are frowned upon. The idea behind this to present life in the good old USA in a positive light, and to foster personal relationships with up and comers that may provide a useful backdoor channel in the event of a crisis on what is really going on inside the leadership at that moment.
ANYWAY - the summer in question there were dozens of visitors from the Air Forces of many middle eastern countries on the base, and I think my Dad (who was both taking & teaching classes) saw his role as an ambassador of sorts and befriended some of the visitors (mainly the Tunisians, who were cool) inviting them over for dinner and such. This dovetailed into my Mom's plans, which was apparently to conquer the world by learning to cook all of its cuisines.
As a kid, I of course had no input into decision making, but it was decided to show our visitors more of this great land by taking a road trip to the gulf coast and the Florida panhandle. I can't explain why, but the convoy of four cars driving from Montgomery AL to Florida just seemed super cool to me at the time. It was a simpler time then, I guess. The non-mobile-homes park we stayed at was right next to Eglin AFB, and the photo below does not do justice to how enormous the hangers are on that base; easily the biggest things for 100's of miles.
After driving past the kudzu for many miles, we finally reached our destination.
Okay, for a California boy, it wasn't what I expected, it was a lagoon, you could walk 200 feet out, but it wasn't deeper than 4 feet. White sands, Spanish moss on all the trees, no mountains for 1,000's of miles, no surf..... this isn't the beach I remember!
Well that's not why I'm writing this; why am I writing this? The best feast I've even been to. Probably my Mom's idea, but the day after we got there, the next day was devoted towards everyone making their best dishes for dinner, and the women (and to a lesser extent, the men) went all out. Sadly, the specifics are lost in the mists of time, but we feasted that night on the best that the gulf and the cooks' ingenuity could supply. I remember a whole fish, caught that day, dozens of middle eastern dishes, the names of which I can not recall.
We all know how to party, Thanksgiving is a national holiday after all, but I have never, ever, felt so full after a meal as this time - I didn't eat anything for 24 hours afterwards at all. Good times. Good memories.
Anyway - nominate your own best feasts in the past, we all love this stuff.