Book Review: The Great American CookbookSeptember 10, 2011
Event: Let Us Eat LocalSeptember 12, 2011
I remember that evening like it was yesterday. It was a special night for me. My parents had been married 25 years, and it was their first big milestone anniversary for which I was old enough to do something extravagant in their honor. With the paycheck that I had earned at my job at NBC Nightly News, I splurged and took Mom and Dad out to dinner at a swanky restaurant. And not just any swanky restaurant. Windows on the World.
Being able to take them there was a symbol of my adulthood, of the fact I was now making enough of my own money (not much, but enough) to be able to give them an inkling of how much I loved and appreciated them. To pamper them as I felt they deserved.
At the time, I wasn’t used to eating in fancy restaurants as I am now, and neither were they. It’s safe to say that all three of us felt some degree of awkwardness that evening, surrounded as we were by an army of cutlery on the table, and unsure of how to act amid the uber-formal service. (A former busboy, waiter, and cook, Dad always wants to help clear the table when we eat at a restaurant, neatly stacking plates and utensils to make the staff’s job easier.)
Ironically—considering my fixation with food, and the fact that I grew up to be a food writer—the one detail about that night that I cannot remember is what we ate. I think mashed potatoes and beef were involved, but I really couldn’t say for sure. Which, when I consider it now, is fitting since Windows was never primarily about the food.
I was too awed by the view to remember much of anything else. By the “masters of the universe” aesthetic of the place. Looking down on all of the buildings, streets, and tiny humans below, you couldn’t help but feel big. And to know that it was my doing, that I was the one responsible for getting the three of us up there? Well, all I can say is that I was literally and figuratively on top of the world.
This morning, I could not bear to watch the reading of the names at the memorial for more than five minutes. It is too painful to see those families suffering—all it does is call to mind every sorrow in the world. So I will leave the ceremonies to others. I know it’s important to remember, but having lived through that day in New York City, there is no chance on Earth that I would ever forget it. Watching the remembrances now only causes me further pain.
Instead, I will think back to every single employee of Windows on the World who made my parents’ 25th anniversary dinner in 1990 such a special night for us. I don’t know how many of those folks, if any, were still working in that magical place on September 11, 2001, but to all who EVER worked there, I offer my gratitude. Thank you for helping the rest of us create such beautiful and lasting memories that are forever linked with our New York City.
And to the families and friends of every single person lost ten years ago on this day, I offer my prayers and love. I wish you peace.