Archive for July, 2011
Since tapering off the medication for my migraines, thanks to a disagreement I had with my liver (he’s still sleeping on the couch) I’ve had much less in the realm of remembered dreams in the mornings. This morning however turned out to be quite a treat.
I found myself in the breakroom of what seemed to be a small one-story office building. There were large tinted windows, but meager furnishings inside. I sat at a table by the window with what seemed to be the only two coworkers I ever conversed with, John and Elizabeth. For lunch, I had a piece of white bread, Elizabeth had an entire package of Double Stuf Oreos, and John had an entire package of the brand new Quadruple Stuf Limited-Edition Spring Oreos. Let’s just say there was so much of the creme filling, there were eight cookies in the package. If you’re not familiar with the Oreos that come out in the spring with yellow creme, I found a picture for you; just imagine them with four times the creme. Elizabeth gave me a couple of her cookies as I tried to eat my slice of bread very slowly, hoping not to finish too quickly as I didn’t want to sit and watch them eat while I had nothing left. Even though she was sharing, I couldn’t help longing for one of John’s cookies. He had what seemed to be a well-practiced routine of opening the Oreos, scraping out the creme into one of the open slots in the package, and dipping the cookies themselves in milk before eating them. For me, the best part of Oreos is the creme, and this growing pile of it was making my mouth water like a ravenous wolf. I reached out a hand and gave a pouty face hoping John would offer me a cookie, but it took him a while to comply. He gave me a look, handed me a cookie, and told me he only was sharing with me because Elizabeth wasn’t around and because he appreciated me and my womanly ways. I scarfed it down as he began eating the pile of creme with the fork he had been using for scraping and Elizabeth rejoined the table.
That’s when I woke up. I’m still not sure what “womanly ways” John had taken note of that were worth sharing his special cookies, but I do know my friend Coral gets more meat in her bowl at Chipotle when she flirts with the guy behind the counter. Perhaps I should just start winking hopefully at everyone I see eating cookies.
There was one slight problem after waking up this morning. I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted the taste of Oreo more than the moment I realized it had all been a dream. Bakers Square has an Oreo pie, the filling for which tastes just slightly sweeter than the creme actually in Oreos (which is to say it probably contains materials not naturally occurring on Earth to allow such a supersaturation of sugar). So, I acquired a full pie to take into work so that I could share the laugh with John. Now where am I to find spring Oreos this time of year so that I can make a pile of creme to eat with a fork?
A while back, I came up with a tagline for my blog that I feel expresses a lot about who I am: Hotdish & Sweet Tea. I’ve received plenty of reactions to this particular wordsmithing, ranging from chuckles to quizzical looks, and many have asked what it means.
I’ll start with sweet tea, as chronologically in my life it came first. I grew up in rural North Carolina. Where I was born, acorns don’t fall far from trees. Most people put down roots right where they are without looking very far beyond the horizon. Days are filled with hard work to make a living, and nights are spent in white wooden swings on wrap-around porches with a book in one hand and sweet tea in the other. Gently swaying forward and backward, you can hear bullfrogs, crickets, and other creatures singing their songs while the stress of the day just seems to melt away into the night. The hottest days end with storms and showers that cool down the Earth so you can sleep. If you’ve got a problem that relaxing into the dusk can’t handle, you’ve always got your neighbors that you’ve probably known your whole life to help talk you through it. Everyone matters, everyone is good at something, and nobody gets left behind.
Hotdish came next, when I moved to Minnesota. The differences here are immense. There are a lot of transients, and the general world view seems much broader. With 3.5 million residents, the Twin Cities is the nation’s 16th-largest metropolitan area. The majority of Minnesota, however, is rural. When the Winter hits, the way Minnesotans outside the metropolitan areas survive is based on the community. People make sure others are taken care of and not left cold or stranded. There’s no better way to warm up in the bitter cold of a Minnesota Winter than with a heaping portion of whatever hotdish someone has cooked up. It stays warm for a long time, and has no problem filling you up with its generous starch and meat. Originally used by farm wives to feed large families and church congregations, it remains a staple year-round at church gatherings, family reunions, and potlucks. No matter how easy most hotdishes are to make, you can always feel the love in every bite.
So what do you get when you add both together? Well, you get to indulge yourself while sharing with others. You find a mix of Southern Hospitality and Minnesota Nice. You remember both to work hard and to relax. You know that others around you need your love and support as much as you need theirs. Each bite of hotdish will make you feel at home in a place that adopted you, and no matter how far away you are from the place of your birth, one sip of sweet tea makes sure you never forget putting others first always seems to work out right.
In the literal sense of them both, hotdish and sweet tea really do go well together. If you don’t believe it, just come see me. I’ll make you some of both and chat until the dusk turns to dawn.