Sometimes a situation leads to something becoming so much greater, more pleasurable than it actually is. To clarify with an example: when you have spent a few hours tramping up a cold wet mountain, the piece of melted chocolate that has solidified in an odd shape with all the weird white streaks that previously melted chocolate has will be the most delicious piece of chocolate you have ever eaten. Swiss chocolates have nothing on this squashed bit of Dairy Milk.
I had an example of this the other day. I had to go to Zvornik, a town right on the border about an hour's drive from Tuzla. This isn't normally a problem; I go to Zvornik quite a lot. It is a bit like hopping on the M4 to for a couple of exits, except it is more like the B4324. It's quite a pretty route, and just before you get to Zvornik you go through a range of forested hills and then you emerge, blinking, to see the Drina river flowing gently north and the Drina Valley stretching out before you.
This week it has been snowing, as is quite normal in February here. Everyone is equipped to deal with the snow so all the cars have winter tyres and carry snow chains by law, and pretty much everyone has a couple of rugs and emergency bits of food kept around their car somewhere. Just in case. Last year we forgot about our secret stash under the passenger seat and discovered it half way through the summer when the temperatures were 40C plus and all the chocolate had melted.
On this particular evening we had been to Zvornik and were on our way home. It had already been a long afternoon, much coffee had been drunk which was making me a little more jittery than desirable. I was looking forward to getting home for some supper and a cosy glass of wine in front of an episode of The Wire, but it had started snowing again. The road hadn't really been gritted and it was very slippery. We could barely see out of the windscreen and were having to drive at about 15 mph. We were in the hills and it was very dark. Occasionally a car would flash past, a bus even came thundering around the corner at one point, but everyone was taking it pretty carefully and there were very few cars around. It's difficult to see the lines on the road at the best of times, but covered with snow it was impossible. Couldn't see the edge of the road either. We were moving so slowly that it wasn't really scary, more an acceptance that this journey home was going to be a long, dark, snowy slog. We carried on edging our way through the mountains, right up to the point we lost our grip on the road and the car set off on a gentle pirouette and turned a graceful 360.
We were lucky, nothing was on the road and we didn't come off it. We were going so slowly that we were not physically in danger but it would have been a real disaster if we'd slipped off the road and not been able to get on it again. We edged off again, taking it really carefully. But the combination of far too much coffee earlier and a lunch time that was now a distant memory and I was starting to feel a bit faint and in dire need of some food. A search of the car proved fruitful. I had been given a few days before some zeljanica (spinach pie) made by a friend's mother, complete with feta cheese. I'd eaten them hot, they had been wonderful, but that was a couple of days earlier. Now they were freezing cold. But they were without a doubt the most wonderful, delicious, satisfying meal I'd ever eaten. A small piece of me flew to heaven for a little while as we pulled over and sat munching on our stale spinach pie.
We set off again. It took us approaching 3 hours to get home. But I will never forget how wonderful it was to be sitting on the side of the road eating good, although not quite how it should have been served, food.
How about you? What food that shouldn't be good somehow became a deliciously memorable meal because of the situation you were in?