By Becka Tait
Becka is one of five winners of WFAEats’ Valentine’s food writing contest. We asked our readers to describe their most memorable Valentine’s dinner.
I should have known when he ate the oysters. It was already a special night, Valentine’s Day in Memphis 26 years ago. We were medical students, living off salaries of zero, and meals were usually quick and cheap. Ritz crackers and peanut butter, ramen noodles with canned tuna, an apple, splurging for the crispest ones. If we had a good week, we’d go out for our favorite treat: Memphis barbeque so tender that the smoky pork shoulder would melt in your mouth.
On this night, he planned the date, beginning with dinner at the Four Flames, a landmark Memphis restaurant. The choices of entrees of that fine meal are lost to memory, but I do remember ordering the barbeque oyster appetizer. And I remember my surprise when he, no oyster lover, savored them. We laughed and drank from our $30 bottle of wine, recommended by the sommelier, a first-time experience for us.
For dessert, he took us downtown to our favorite sweet spot, a French bakery nestled off the lobby of the Peabody Hotel. A fruit tart with a flaky crust for me, a sumptuous chocolate mousse cake for him. And then, a visit to the roof top terrace of the Peabody. It was a date night destination of ours, to see the lights on the Mississippi River Bridge and look down Beale street just beginning its revitalization.
But it was February in Memphis, and the unpredictable weather had brought in a cold front that day. For some seemingly inexplicable reason, he wanted to stay out on the terrace, but not me. I was cold and stuffed from the rich meal, ready to go home to my toasty warm apartment.
It was there on my fourth-hand brown couch, while we sipped cheap Chablis, he brought out the little red box. He spilled some wine while he put down his glass and I noticed his hands were shaking. It was then I realized he had planned the perfect engagement night. I should have known when he tried the oysters.
Other Valentine’s Contest Winners:
- Best Valentine’s Day Ever
- Romance & Little Birds: A Valentine’s Tradition Since 1973
- Aprons, Cast Iron Skillets & Spices Create Valentine’s Memory
- Dream-Eating for ‘The Dress’