Jim and I recently attended the holiday party given by our Homeowner’s Association at the clubhouse just up the street. Dinner was catered, but everyone was asked to bring a dessert to share.
As we made the rounds greeting neighbors we already know and meeting a few others for the first time, I glanced at the kitchen counter where all of the desserts had been placed. My heart skipped a beat when I saw something very familiar. It was a tin of individually wrapped candies, but not just any old candies: they were Frango Mints, the signature truffle sold by Marshall Field’s in Chicago. Yes, I’m aware it’s called Macy’s now. No, I’m not interested in referring to it as Macy’s.
I jumped into action immediately, grabbing our HOA President and asking her if she knew who brought the Frango Mints. No, it wasn’t enough that they were there for my enjoyment. Naturally I had to meet whomever brought them, because “Hello, Chicago ties!”
She pointed to a woman across the room and I made my way over there. I introduced myself only slightly awkwardly as I told her that I needed to meet the person who brought the Frango Mints. Her eyes lit up and she said, “My husband told me that nobody would know what they were!” On the contrary, husband of my new friend.
She told me her name and asked where I’m from. “Born in the city and raised in the South Suburbs: Park Forest,” I said, “but we were in Naperville for more than twenty years. You?”
“Calumet City!” she said, and then I’m pretty sure my new friend–also from the South Suburbs of Chicago–and I high-fived.
Here’s the truth. As happy as I am here in Knoxville, Chicago will always be my hometown and I am always hungry for a taste of home. Anytime I can make a Chicago connection here in the South (and I’m happy to say it happens often!), it makes me feel a level of comfort that I can’t even describe.
Later as Jim and I were leaving and saying goodbye to our neighbors, I stopped for one last chat with my new friend. “Did you grab some Frangos?” she asked. “Yes,” I replied, “I have two here and Jim’s got three in his pocket for me, for later.” She smiled and gave me a thumbs up, and we headed home.