1. Fried whole trout
    I am three years old and staying in a cabin in Tahoe with my parents and old family friends. I cannot stop devouring these crispy fish, caught that day by the man who owns the cabin, even though they have eyes and gills, and I am a little grossed out. My grandmother tells me to eat the eyeballs because they will make me smart. I hide them in my napkin so she doesn't know I didn't, but worry about being found out for the rest of the night.
  2. Scrambled eggs with cream cheese and green onions
    I am in second grade, home sick from school. My mother brings me a tray with toasted wheat bread and fluffy eggs, dotted with cream cheese and slivers of scallions. She calls it "eggy toast," which we called it when I was littler, and which I now fear is embarrassingly babyish. But I am sick and sort of want to be babied, so I let it go.
  3. Orange Popsicle
    I am eleven, and visiting my paternal grandparents by myself in Los Angeles. They let me do everything my parents won't, like eating this supremely unnaturally flavored orange Popsicle in their hot tub while reading Seventeen Magazine. After I get out of the hot tub, I put on a bathrobe and my grandmother teaches me how to put on makeup. I fly home to SFO the next day with a fully painted face. My mother is horrified.
  4. Bean and cheese burrito
    I am seventeen, sitting across from my first real boyfriend at Hi-Tec Burrito in San Rafael. It's the first time a boy has ever paid for my meal, and even though it was only $5, it seems overwhelmingly generous. I try to remember to take tiny bites and chew each one slowly, so I don't finish before him, and am more careful than usual to wipe my face after every bite. He orders a chicken super burrito and devours it messily, which I somehow find adorable.
  5. Matzo brei
    I am home from college for spring break and it is Passover time. My father and I are barely speaking to each other, but he knocks on my door and let's me know that he has cooked my favorite, matzo brei. I sulk into the kitchen and sit at the counter while he plates it for me, topping it with the only accoutrements it needs: black pepper and onion salt. We talk about my midterms and plans for the summer, and I feel myself start to thaw a little bit.
  6. Potato gnocchi
    I am twenty-two, and have been dating a guy I met at the Hong Kong in Harvard Square for two weeks. It's the first time I am cooking him dinner, and I am hand-rolling potato gnocchi in my tiny apartment kitchen in Allston. "That's not the way my ma made it," he tells me. I ignore him. When we sit down to eat the cooked potato dumplings in the homemade, creamy pesto sauce I prepared, he tells me, "It doesn't taste like Ma's." After dinner, I tell him I am tired and suggest he goes home.
  7. Red Thai coconut curry with tofu and broccoli
    I am twenty-four and have just moved to San Francisco. I am cooking dinner in my new apartment for the first time. I only have one bowl and a frying pan, so curry seems to make sense. I have very little furniture, so I sit on my bed and eat my flavorful, vegetarian supper and daydream about the new life I am about to embark upon.
  8. Goat cheese croquettes
    I am twenty-eight and am sitting across from the much older man I have been seeing for two months, at a very nice restaurant. He is in the middle of a divorce, and I am unconvinced that he will not go back to his wife. He takes a bite of one of the crispy croquettes we are sharing, holds my hands in his, and promises me it will all be ok. I know he is lying.
  9. Onion-poppyseed bialy
    I am twenty-nine and @evan and I have gone out four times, and I think I really like him. He is coming over to my house for the first time. All day long, I have been testing a bialy recipe for a cookbook I'm working on. When he comes over, I present him with coffee and a plate of homemade bialys, and I know in that moment that there is something real between us. I give him some bialys to take home, and months later I learn that he has saved one of them in his freezer for sentimental reasons.