So it was not inconceivable that I was drunk on love and therefore wrong about foodstuffs.
What if, for example, I had eaten the exact same pizza in my hometown? The exact same crispy yet chewy thin crust? The exact same perfectly herbed tomato topping? The exact same cheese, the exact same amount of it (not too much, not too scant)? I would like to think that I would recognize it as a wondrous thing. But would I declare it the best I ever had?
What I do know, however, is that the exact same pizza does not exist in my hometown. If it exists in New Haven, Connecticut, regarded by pizza cognoscenti as perhaps America's best pizza city, or New York, or even the birthplace of pizza, Naples, I haven't had it, and I've had pizza in all those places.
So, being wrong is not inconceivable, but it's not likely either.
Which brings me back to my question.
Are certain dishes simply better on the road, or does the road make them seem that way?
I once asked a Lebanese woman at a Middle Eastern import store why the tabbouleh in Lebanon tasted so much better than the tabbouleh here in the States. Was it just that I was eating it in the country of its origins, or was it that the tabbouleh really was better there?
Tabbouleh, after all, is just chopped parsley, mint, scallions, and tomatoes, and a little bulgur - emphasis on little - dressed with lemon and olive oil. How could one be all that much better than the other?
The parsley, she answered without missing a beat.
It's different, she said. Here, the leaves of the flat-leaf parsley are thick. There, they are delicate. The flavor is different, she said. More sweet.
So, there are differences in flat-leaf parsley. Who knew?
Ingredients make a difference, of course. But I think there is something more to the answer than that.