Over the years, I have become famous – for my chocolate cobbler (it is one of the few dishes I can make since I am domestically challenged). So much so that I am always instructed to bring it to church potluck dinners and holiday gatherings as if it’s my plus one. “Thank you for the invitation. I will be attending the party, and yes, chocolate cobbler will be accompanying me.”
I have actually been greeted at the door by the hostess ripping the cobbler out of my hands. “Oh, hi, Amanda. How long do I need to heat the cobbler?”
Of course, I can’t blame them. With two sticks of real butter and about four cups of sugar, the cobbler has charisma. Two inches of chocolate goo under a golden brown crust – it would be sinful if it weren’t the closest thing to Heaven. It sucks people in and makes them do things they would not normally do – like grown women scraping the bowl and fighting over who gets to lick the spoon.
It is the best thing in the world to bring if there is a death, and I always manage to keep the ingredients in the pantry in case of a cobbler emergency.
My friend Jill says there are some foods that actually say, “So sorry for your loss.” But other foods just say, “Thinking of you” or “Hope you feel better soon.” Chocolate cobbler is reach-out-and-hug-your-neck food.
I laugh at the effect the cobber has on people, and I can’t wait to see the reaction of a first-timer. But I never really understood until this week – and I learned my lesson over a plate of black-eyed peas, fried eggplant, squash dressing, fried corn, and fried chicken.
On Monday, I had the pleasure of enjoying the most amazing lunch with Winona’s Mildred Fondren – cuisine and company both exquisite. Now, for someone who has been living on frozen dinners for the past month, the invitation to lunch with Miss Mildred was a God-send.
And the experienced began the moment I walked into the door. The aroma of frying chicken and black-eyed peas brought me back to my grandmother’s kitchen in Eudora with me at 10-years-old sitting on the counter next to the stove watching her cook. “Watch out for the grease, Mandy,” she would say.
After I left Miss Mildred’s, I actually called my Daddy to tell him that I just had the most Thelma Sexton meal ever, and he had to hear every detail as if he too were brought back to dinner with “Mother.”
Isn’t it crazy that a meal can take you places like that? I don’t know why people go cuckoo over my chocolate cobbler, but I know why I like it. It tastes like my Aunt Gaye Gaye’s house – not literally of course.
Gaye Gaye was my Daddy’s oldest sister who lived up the hill from our house, and she loved to spoil all of us kids. She would take us to Arkabutla Lake and let us slide down the hill in cardboard boxes. On the rare occasion of a Mississippi snow, she would make us snow cream.
She would even let us hide behind her skirts when a switching from Momma was imminent.
Gaye Gaye’s house was a sanctuary for us growing up – warm and inviting and always smelling like homemade fudge – just like chocolate cobbler.
I learned two things from my lunch with Miss Mildred (other than the fact that her chocolate cake is certainly rivaling chocolate cobbler for the food that God eats). I learned that you can find the comfort of home in a great meal, a beautiful view, or the embrace of a friend, but most of all, home can be anywhere you make it.