My mother grew up in Chicago and in our childhood instilled the love for the Chicago she knew. There is, and always has been, one magical place that we too share her love for. That is the city block building with green majestic clocks on each corner that was once known as Marshall Fields on State Street.
Eight stories of every lovely thing you could ever want to own. On the seventh floor of this magnificent place was the fabulous Walnut Room. This is where you lunched! A giant dinning room lined with dark, rich, walnut panels. Servers who worn black. Linens on the table and white linen napkins so large you could use as a bath towel.
Every Christmas, the Fields Christmas Tree sat in the middle of the room. This was no ordinary tree! It was at least two stories tall and so wide that a dozen tables encircled it. Nothing said Christmas more than lunching in the Walnut Room, gazing at the tree, and watching the ice skaters across the street from seven stories up.
Marshall Fields also offered a delicacy that makes my mouth water just thinking about, they are called Frango Mints. Small cubes of chocolate and mint, sitting in white paper wrappers, and lined perfectly in the long, green, rectangle box. We don’t lunch in the Walnut Room anymore, but those green boxes still arrive every Christmas thanks to my mom.
A few years ago our grandson Liam discovered Frangos. After our box of chocolates seemed to vanish, I asked mom to send him his own. The next year she did. His very own personal size box. It was wonderful to be able to hide ours away to savor well into the year.
This year our granddaughter Emery discovered Frangos. Unfortunately, she didn’t have her own box and I had to share.
Last week Liam was standing on a stool looking in the cabinet of my kitchen for snacks. I watched as he reached far into the corner and retrieved a rectangular box still wrapped in christmas paper. “Can we open it?” he asked grinning with delight. His little sister took no time to be at his side ready to assist. I gave them my approval.
As the final wrapping was removed and tossed on the floor, I reached for the box. I removed the cover and the aroma of chocolate and mint filled the kitchen. “Nothing smells like Frangos,” I said to my audience. I sat the box on the counter as each kid took their position on either side of me. Reaching in, I set one in front of Liam and one in front of Emery.
“One at a time please. I don’t want to see two, (looking at Liam) or three of them in your mouth at once (not that it’s ever happened…did I mention these are really good!) “Frangos are to be savored.”
A minute or so later I looked down at the box and five empty white wrappers looked up at me. So did four big eyes and two sets of chocolate covered lips. It was a scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. “Who ate all those?” I shouted.
“I had two,” Emery admitted.
“You had three?” I said looking at Liam. He nodded and gave me a chocolaty toothless grin.
“What am I going to do with you?”
Without looking up, Emery said, “You could hide them way up high where we can’t find them.”
Liam shook his head. Reaching for another delight responded, “She’ll only risk the chance that I’ll get hurt crawling up to get them.”
Need I say more….