Tomorrow is my birthday 🙂

When we were growing up, at every birthday we would be asked to share advice from however many years had passed.

Today for a fun challenge, an accounting of my favorite meals or dishes over the last 38 years of life.

38. MawMaw’ maccaroni and cheese (which I have recently-ish learned was pretty much velveeta shells and cheese). Comfort food at its finest.

37. PawPaw’s biscuits and gravy. I eat my biscuits and gravy just like PawPaw: Pillsbury buttery biscuit from a can cooked in the toaster oven and ripped into pieces, a sausage patty, ripped into pieces, scrambled eggs mixed in to the pile; and, finally, a cascading coat of sausage gravy

36. Aunt Tava’s chicken dressing. Aunt Tava would make dressing, then add in big pieces of cooked chicken and bake everything together. Add in her green beans, some jellied cranberry sauce, and some gravy and a homey meal turned into a gourmet delight.

35. My first fried green tomato in Juliette, GA. In middle school, I was obsessed with the mo the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. One of my most memorable meals was the time my parents took me and my sisters to the Whistle Stop Cafe, the featured cafe from the movie and book. I, of course, ordered the fried green tomatoes and have never regretted letting them into my life.

34. My 7th birthday cake at Showbiz Pizza (now Chuck-E- Cheese). My cousin and I had a combined birthday party at Showbiz, complete with a small chocolate cake with yellow buttercream frosting for each of us to share with our family and friends.

33. Manioc soup. In Brazil, there is something called “caldo de mandioca;” which is a manioc (cassava) soup that is delicious. Sometimes church families would get together to make a big pot of it – by big pot I’m talking an actual cauldron – and invite people over for soup and fellowship.

32. Pamonhas. Pronounced pamoñas. Pamonhas are essentially a Brazilian take on tamales. Sweet corn paste mixed with cheese, wrapped in corn husks and cooked over a fire.

31. Feijoada. Brazilian black bean soup with various cuts of pork, and sausage.

30. Chicken with cream, and Queen of Sheba Torte. For my 30th birthday, I had friends over to watch Julie and Julia; and I made her recipe for chicken with cream, and made Queen of Sheba cake for dessert. Epic.

29. My first birria taco. Who knew stewed and shredded beef in saucy corn tortillas with cilantro and onions could be so amazing?? After my first one, that summer of translating in Baja, if birria was available wherever we are, that’s what I was having.

28. My first sushi. Ginza. Nashville, circa 2004. My friend ordered the sushi boat and taught me about sushi.

27. Waffle House after settling in for freshman year. My friends Julia, David, Robert, and I went to Waffle House together the first night of on campus life, to bring back the familiar youth group vibe we had grown up with.

26. Curried chicken salad. The Roswell Tea House which is no more, ran a Groupon once so I took my mom to lunch. I had the curried chicken salad on a croissant and it was delicious. It had raisins in it. The chicken salad, not the croissant.

25. The pimento cheese snacker at work. I am not kidding you: that thing is my favorite. It’s a little cup of Stacey’s pita chips, and a little container of pimento cheese. I think it’s Colby Jack and gouda. Either way, it’s amazing.

24. Baja tuna salad. In Baja, the tuna salad has corn in it and is eaten with tortilla chips.

23. Sra Franco’s creamy corn over rice.

22. Fish taco day at Ciudad de Niños, Baja California, Mexico

21. Mole nachos at Hotel Paraiso in Colonet, Baja California, Mexico

20. The vegan pozole I made the other day

19. The fish tacos and the green sauce at Gringo a Go Go

18. Glazed croissants my boss brought in because my office mate told my department I had won an alumni award from my seminary :). What a gesture! And I was still fairly new-ish.

17. The burger at City Kitchen the night Andrew asked me to marry him.

16. Brigadeiros. Brazilian chocolate truffles. Enjoyed one today, in fact, with a diet Guaraná.

15. My wedding cake. WalMart sheet cake, folks.

14. My sister’s wedding cake. Publix sheet cake with their fabulous buttercream.

13. The biscuits at Tupelo Honey Cafe.

12. The portobello mushroom sandwich at Firebirds.

11. Brazilian wedding cakes and party treats. Brazilian confections are among the best of the best.

10. My mom’s Christmas Eve breakfast casserole

9. MawMaw’s chocolate meringue pie.

8. A tomato sandwich with a big slice of heirloom tomato, an obscene amount of mayonnaise on both sides, salt, pepper, and fresh basil.

7. The blue corn tortilla enchiladas I shared with my dad at Xcaret in Cancun.

6. Baja hotdogs: wrapped in bacon, served in a bun with sliced onions grilled with butter and mustard.

5. Mexican street corn. Not the restaurant kind. Actual Mexican street corn from a street vendor, in a disposable cup with a plastic spoon.

4. Sra Franco’s chilaquiles

3. Antonia’s pavê. Antonia was our housekeeper and pavê was her specialty dessert. Ladyfingers soaked in condensed milk and 2 percent milk, then layered with cooled brigadeiro mix, home-whipped cream, more ladyfingers, more chocolate, more cream and finished with chocolate sprinkles.

2. My alone Christmas lunch last year when Reesee the Cat ruined Christmas. Baked feta: block of feta in middle of a platter, drizzled with good quality olive oil and honey; sprinkled with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Cherry tomatoes all around. Baked , drizzled with a good balsamic, and served with pita.

1. Christmas cookies. Most recently, the Christmas Cookie Sampler from Harris Teeter.

Honorable mention: the biscuits and gravy at Pastries a Go-Go in Decatur,GA

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