For the past few weeks, Facebook has exploded in nostalgia. Most of my friends have joined their respective “You know you’re from ______” group… and every day, I’ve seen all of you posting your memories from childhood. After a few days of hesitation, I joined my hometown group as well.
I come from a ragtag town in the middle of nowhere (or so it seemed when I was young) called Bryan/College Station, TX. It’s a town of approximately 100,000 people snuggled between Houston and Austin. Most of you have probably heard about it because Texas A&M University is smack in the middle of town. You would think that with one of the largest educational institutions in the county, College Station was a fun place to grow up… Well, no. The crazy college students existed in their own parallel universe. For me, it was suburbia at it’s best: school, piano lessons, little league… along with piles of homework. And with two parents who were more concerned about my grades than my social life, I did not get out much to enjoy the expansive metropolitan area (*snark*) like many of my classmates did. I escaped as soon as I turned eighteen. Every time I go back, I notice that there’s an explosion of new buildings, restaurants and (the dreaded) strip malls… but on the whole, College Station has not changed that much since I left two decades ago. It “feels” the same… safe and boring.
So getting back to the point, I joined the “You Know You From College Station…” Group. (Note the grammar faux pas, which I think is appropo… we are nothing if not hicks.) I’ve never seen a Facebook group grow so rapidly. I thought I had joined early in the game, but by the time I arrived, over 1,500 people had already joined the group, and there were over 500 postings! Reading over what people were already starting to repeat, immediately, I realized that College Station wasn’t so static after all. People were reminiscing about long gone grocery stores, school buildings and landmarks; restaurants that shuttered their doors long ago; community events that died due to inattention or circumstance, and classmates/friends/teachers/neighbors who have been lost but not forgotten. Man, it’s nothing but a trip down memory lane!
Among the hundreds of posts, I came across two of note. One long gone restaurant used to serve the most amazing twice-baked potatoes. You really have not lived until you tried one… it was one of the most amazing experiences of my childhood. But of course, the place is no more… and I have been deprived of the goodness for all these years.
Around the same time, another person mentioned another restaurant that makes the most amazing fruit tarts. Luckily, this particular restaurant is still around, so I try to stop by every time I head home.
But right now, I live in Washington, DC… and I found myself in a conundrum. I suddenly had a huge craving for a twice baked potato of yore… and a fruit tart. I immediately went to Whole Foods, and bought myself a potato and their pre-made fruit pastry. Arriving home, I made and ate a most excellent dinner… although both stemmed my craving somewhat, it paled in comparison to what I used to be able to get in College Station on a semi-regular basis.
Why is it that I start craving things that I can’t have? Story of my life. But that’s a blog post that will never be written.
But there is a happy ending! About a week ago, my dreams came true. Another poster came on line and told us that the lady who used to own the defunct restaurant is a friend of their family. The kind lady, now retired, now shares her restaurant recipes (including the famous twice baked potatoes) with her good friends. The poster offered to share the potato recipe with the group! Yay! I immediately sent her my email address, phone number and social security number, and told her to contact me anytime. I anticipate any day now receiving the all-important recipe in my inbox. (And yes, if you ask nicely, I’ll share.)
As for the fruit tart, even if I had any pastry know-how, I will leave that to the professionals. When I go home next Thanksgiving, my family will make a run to Cafe Eccell for some sugary goodness. Hmmm… I wonder if you can freeze a fruit tart.