I have spent ten Christmas drives from Michigan to Texas planning where to eat.
Twenty-five hours is a long time to fantasize about food.
Only getting to eat perfectly seasoned white meat at Chick-Fil-A, creamy bean and cheese tacos at Taco Cabana, or the most moist smoked brisket at Rudy’s once a year is torture.
And no one makes sweet tea like Bill Miller’s BBQ.
The most coveted restaurant is Niki’s Tokyo Inn and their garlic dumplings, gyoza. The dark paneled walls and matted red carpet transport you back to when the restaurant opened in 1970. I have been eating there since I was little. The family’s houses and vegetable gardens hide behind the restaurant parking lot. The owner’s grown son, a brilliant Yale graduate, is quirky and tells crass jokes, but has a genuine heart.
Everything on the menu is exquisite, but the gyoza is divine. They melt in your mouth, taunting you to eat more. The garlic is sweet and tangy. Served as an appetizer, these 8 little dumplings are garnished with fresh cabbage to cleanse the palette.
I don’t share.
I eat a whole plate by myself.
I eat any leftovers that are missed.
I collect everyone’s unused garlic sauce to pour over my rice.
There is a long list of things you shouldn’t eat while you are pregnant, garlic being one of them, and the first Christmas home after moving to Michigan I was pregnant. I craved gyoza for double the months, increasing my desire to order this delicacy on our next visit.
When I stepped inside, slipped off my shoes, and sunk into the soft squishy pillows surrounding our table, I knew I was home. My legs assumed the usual position of criss-cross-applesauce as I patiently waited for our order, grateful to my in-laws for watching our children so we could have a date.
Still in a garlic euphoria, I kissed The Tortoise goodnight and then nursed The Hare before going to bed.
A few hours later, I was startled from a deep sleep.
The Hare was screaming and crying.
I ran to pick her up, her little body squirming, belly distended.
Her diaper was full, gushing. An overpowering smell of fresh garlic ignited, burning my eyes and nose. I cleaned that up and quickly put on a fresh diaper. The Hare continued crying and writhing, filling another diaper. After a few diaper changes, she began to settle down. I cradled and rocked her. Her sweaty head still oozing the scent of garlic from her pores.
Apparently, garlic wasn’t conducive to nursing either.
This week’s RemembeRed memoir prompt from, The Red Dress Club, asked us to write a post that either starts or ends with the words “Lesson learned.”