Friday, January 8, 2010
A Sweet Surprise
For Christmas, my mother gave me a wonderful surprise that immediately became my favorite present that I received: a cookbook. But not just any cookbook, a cookbook from one of my favorite places to have lunch in Dothan, the Garland House.
The Garland House closed four years ago, after having been in business for 30 years. They specialized in serving crepes and quiche. The restaurant was in an old house near downtown that had a large front porch with rocking chairs that wrapped around one side of the house. Inside, there were different dining rooms with fireplaces in each one. The tables were made from old sewing machine stands and you had to walk through the kitchen to get to the back dining room. My favorite lunch there was Chicken Divan Crepes, Spinach Salad with their secret dressing, mini yeast rolls, and Peanut Paradise Pie. As I poured over the cookbook over the holidays, I could not believe that I had the actual recipes from that wonderful restaurant. I couldn't wait to get home and try them out; and one night for dinner, I did! We had all of my favorites and it was wonderful! It took me 2 1/2 hours and almost every pot that I own, but I made all of it! Those wonderful flavors brought back so many memories. Then tonight, as I re-read the recipes and stories included in the cookbook (while eating a few left over yeast rolls with some soup), the real reason I loved having it hit me. While having those coveted recipes is amazing, that cookbook represents much more.
There are so many memories of eating there, I had almost forgotten them. But tonight, they came flooding back like a long lost friend. I don't remember when I began eating there, maybe in high school, maybe before. Since they were only open for lunch, it was a special treat to go there during the school year and more often in the summertime. I had my bridesmaid's luncheon there with my sister, who was my maid of honor, my aunt Sue, who was my matron of honor, my mother, and both of my grandmothers, among other friends who were in our wedding. We had a private room and we talked and laughed and it was perfect.
I cannot count the times I have met my mother there, or my sister there, or both of them there to eat lunch. It always felt a little special to go there, but I wonder if I took it for granted that I would always be able to do that: to spend an idle hour talking and eating as if we had no place else to go and never even considering not having dessert. Rod and I also loved to go there and he always got the same thing (that I never got): Old Tavern Crepes and the Brownie with Mocha Sauce and Ice Cream. Briggs even got to go there a little while and sit in their old fashioned wooden high chairs and eat ice cream.
At some point, some of our family ( Sue, Scott, Granny, Mom, Brooke, Hudson and Briggs; I can't remember if Dad ever went? Probably not his favorite!) started going there between Christmas and New Year's as sort of an after-Christmas celebration. We went the last year they were open and the next year felt lost as we tried to think of somewhere else to go. Our perfect little place had sadly closed, and we could not believe it. And although each year since has been fun, it has not been the same.
So now, all we have are the memories of good times spent there, together, enjoying good food and each other. Memories, that I had not thought of in many years and had almost forgotten. So I just want to thank my mom for bringing them back to me, for sharing them with me and to tell you that you gave me much more than a cookbook and a sink full of dirty dishes.