I always love to read those "man-on-the-street" columns in my local newspaper. It seems that frivolous questions rather than weighty ones inspire far livelier and intriguing responses. In the same spirit, I collar friends, relatives, and total strangers to ask them inconsequential questions on culinary matters.

Q: What was the most memorable meal you had while you were on a vacation?

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Bill: Definitely when I had guinea pig for dinner in Peru. Guinea pig is a food, not a pet, in South America. I had to try it, just so I could come home and say, "Hey, I ate a guinea pig." When I ordered it, I assumed it would not look like a guinea pig...you know, like beef doesn't look like a cow. But it arrived at my table looking totally like a guinea pig, a burnt-to-a-crisp guinea pig, from its ears right down to its little claws. As a garnish, they had put a little lettuce-leaf hat on its head. It tasted somewhere between what I know rabbit tastes like and what I imagine rat tastes like. It was definitely a one-time-only experience.

Helen: It was at the Villa San Michele outside of Florence. There was a salad of arugula with figs and shaved parmesan. A pumpkin-rosemary risotto to die for. And scallops on rosemary skewers. I know nothing about Italian wine. We asked if they had something like a California chardonnay. The guy came back with a vanilla-y, perfect wine - it was like, California Chardonnay, eat your heart out. Villa San Michele is set on a hillside, and you eat on a big stone veranda with arches framing the view of Florence below. It was one of those moments you feel privileged to have found such an amazing place.