There is nothing more comforting than a chocolate chip cookie, in any form brand, flavor. When you give free cookies out, well damn that’s just a place I want to be. No I’m not talking about an open house or a furniture store, it was Sweet Tomatoes, the salad bar accompanied by an extensive carb-filled, serve yourself bar. This wasn’t healthy food, it was just an excuse to eat bowls of mac n’ cheese, focaccia pizza stuff with a side of baked potato.
Given free-choice, growing up my siblings and I hardly ever touched the salad bar. I guess it was harmless for my parents who viewed this bread buffet as a healthy option. Regardless, we barely complained and actually tended to leave hungry. It was always the option we weren’t thrilled about, but when you eat out every day of the week, you begin to appreciate the freedom of buffets — the choose your own journey of sustenance.
For a family of a picky eaters, it was a place perfect for gatherings too. We’d go out with friends, family and neighbors. During a highly discounted, in exchange for a highly annoying timeshare pitch, Orlando vacation we met our cousins for lunch at Sweet Tomatoes. Being with them was always special. They only lived 3 hours away, but our time together felt rushed, but filled with laughter and pure juvenile playfulness.
We ended lunch and got to hang out just the kids, while my parents were being persuaded at will. They dropped us off at the hotel, we hopped out of the mini van and carried our free cookies wrapped in paper napkins as we raced up the stairs. There were so many uneaten cookies, and we had already eaten the fresh ones distributed by the bright-smiled Haitian man. As we arrived at the room, half the crew went inside as I placed my extra cookies wrapped in two napkins on the doorstep of our hotel neighbors.
With the maturity of twenty somethings, and the ages of elementary schoolers, we strutted to the hotel pool with our cousins, dominated the social scene, and flip-flopped back to the room, drained from the couple hours of Florida summer sun. We returned to the room.
At this point, our cousins had to leave and around the same time my parents returned from their seemingly never-ending part-time vacation rental pitch. But when they walked in, they were confused and frustrated and…