Culinary Childhood Memories

My first fancy dress came from Neiman Marcus. It was a pink and white gingham long dress purchased for me to wear at my cousin Judy’s neimanmarcuswedding, where I would hand out pink silk roses filled with rice.

I was four. Even at four, I understood that every day play clothes didn’t come from Neiman Marcus.  Back in the 70’s, they sewed tags in all the clothes that said “Neiman Marcus” in their signature script and I can remember being scolded by my mother when I told my cousin to LOOK AT THE TAG.

In my work blog last week, I wrote about the visits from Ghosts of Christmas past and the struggle with remembering happy memories from my childhood. In truth, I know the good memories are there, waiting to be uncovered.

So, today, I visited the “tea room” at Neiman Marcus in hopes of capturing some happier childhood recollections would surface if they were  fueled by the culinary memories.

After the purchase of my first fancy dress, we visited The Zodiac Room of Neiman Marcus about once a year. It was designed to feed “Ladies Who Lunch” and even as a young child, I knew that it wasn’t just about the food, but the entire experience.

Upon being seated, along with a glass of iced water, you are given a tiny demitasse cup filled with chicken broth. That sip prepares your palate – and sets the tone – for the rest of the meal.

Though I know I must have ordered different things over the year, the main thing I remember ordering was the Three Salad Plate  – a scoop of chicken salad alongside an orange jello souffle and a tiny fruit salad with poppy-seed dressing.

Then. There are the popovers. Fresh from the oven popovers served with strawberry butter.

The Tea Room here is called the Mariposa and there is no chicken salad, so I order a crab salad with Green Goddess dressing. I enjoy not one – but two – popovers and use every bit of strawberry butter.

I am hundreds of miles away from Dallas, Texas, yet the flavors bring back those childhood days of feeling special and eating with ladies who lunch.

And, for today, that is enough.

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