Childhood in Chicago has its own traditions. As a new mother I took my month old son to The Walnut Room and thought about the day he could participate in the tradition of dining near the tree during the holidays. I love to see the little children dressed up to eat at a restaurant that still has waiters in tuxedos and fabric tablecloths. It was one of those things that was magical for children in Chicago.
But there are plans mothers make that must change. His life did not play out as I had hoped and with his inability to eat gluten or corn, I thought this was a tradition my son would never partake in. Steamed broccoli next to the tree was not going to be magical.
And then it happened.
At the beginning of November my mother and I were downtown having lunch at the big cafeteria on the 7th floor of the old Marshall Field’s and we stopped by the Walnut Room to see the tree. There we saw the just posted holiday menu which included, just for children, Gluten-Free Chicken Breast and Gluten-Free Brownie. We asked when the tree would be ready, we were told Saturday and we promptly changed all our Saturday plans. He could go!
For my son this was very exciting. He got to wear his suit. He got to ride the red line into the pedway, or as we call it, to ride the train into the store. He saw the Tiffany glass on the 5th floor and rode up to the 7th floor in the glass elevator. He sat next to the tree and met the fairy (a lovely young actress who entertained the dressed up children) and took pictures.
And he ate. The chicken and carrot sticks that he had were nothing special, but they were fine and a lot healthier than what is usually on a children’s menu. The brownie was warm and sweet and it made him very happy. My parents who can eat anything enjoyed their meal a lot. They kitchen had to work to accommodate me, but they did indeed work to do so. I took the one vegetarian salad, made it vegan and did a gluten-free dressing and I was happy. We had a great time.
If you have avoided this tradition because your child needs to be gluten-free, you don’t have to do it any longer.
And now I have something else to be thankful for!