Last night while brushing my teeth I got the strangest craving for diced ham covered in French dressing from a salad bar. Nothing about my tooth paste — or day — said “diced ham,” but the feeling was so strong. I started thinking about salad bars, an experience I haven’t had in quite some time. It made me think of my years growing up in Pittsburgh and eating at Eat ‘n Park. So I’ve decided to share my story of the magical leprechaun dust, because sometimes I get tired of writing about London. (You’ll have to read on to get the connection between salad bars and leprechauns).
Like most people, I don’t remember much from kindergarten, and it baffles me that this is the memory that chooses to linger with me. It was St. Patrick’s Day and we had just returned to the classroom from PE. There was a suspicious large Ziplock bag of powder sitting on the central table. “Look!” said Mrs. Goff in that exaggerated tone kindergarten teachers are required to use, as she read off the note that was attached to the bag. I can’t remember if it rhymed or not, but the gist of it was that a leprechaun had snuck into our classroom while we were gone and left us a magical treat. All we needed to do was add milk to the powder and the treat would appear.
Kindergarten Renee was suspicious. For some reason I was totally fine with Santa Claus breaking into my house and leaving me presents, but the thought of some leprechaun wandering around the classroom, getting up in my crayon box and Beauty and the Beast backpack, did not sit right with me. And what of this powder he left? Why do we have to add milk? Do we even have milk? Why couldn’t he just leave the treat? Of course I didn’t voice any of these concerns, because kindergarten Renee didn’t talk unless absolutely necessary.
So we watched Mrs. Goff mix the white powder with milk and witnessed a real live miracle occur before our eyes — the white powder mixed with white milk turned into a thick mint-green substance! I put aside my doubt — obviously this was the gift of a leprechaun. Before my brain had a chance to wander (But how did he get into the classroom! Did he go through the front door? Wouldn’t the ladies at the front office had seen him?…), we were each served a portion of the magical green substance. It was like nothing I had ever tasted before and couldn’t even describe it besides to say it was delicious and I hoped (in vain) that the leprechaun would continue to bring a daily supply of this green goodness. He never showed up again.
I soon forgot about the delicious dessert until I went to Eat ‘n Park with my family. Eat ‘n Park is my favorite Pittsburgh chain restaurant, famed for its salad bar and smiley face cookies (which they ship across the country, I’ve sent them to my mom in Cincinnati and she’s sent them to me in Chicago … if only there was a way to get them past UK customs!) I took my plate up to the salad bar and was surprised to see a green substance resembling the leprechaun concoction. Obviously it was not the same (come on, the leprechaun doesn’t visit Eat ‘n Park everyday!), but I discovered that pistachio pudding is as close as I can get to the leprechaun delight, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.
And now, here I am in London craving ham and French dressing, pistachio pudding and Eat ‘n Park smiley cookies, and all I have is Scottish salmon, Angel Delight dessert mix and McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits. It’s not the same.