“What’s for dinner, mom? Hon, what’s for dinner?”
Questions spoken aloud in many languages daily. Albeit across the room or shouted loudly from outdoors. Words that seem quite simple, Yes? Really they are not. The act of cooking and enjoying a meal is vital to our well-being and our relationships. Believe me they are. The family meal. It really is so much about the sharing of ourselves while preparing and serving a meal. While chopping vegetables, cleaning the shrimp and setting the table, whatever you do….. there is magic in those moments. The act of stirring a pot of sauce or soup…. conjures up images of years past. Images of long ago that wind slowly through our conscious. All the family is there. Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Sue…. they are all there….. Perhaps a beloved family pet snuggled in the corner…no doubt anxiously awaiting a spill or two. Smells waft along the stove, hover over the table top and much to our delight…engage our appetites. A smile registers on your face. Ah, another “remember when moment” sneaks in as well. The “remember when” could be from long ago or last week. Words unwillingly spill out as our mind races over these past events….. perhaps a tear as well…….yet we really do not know how or why this is happening. We just see how each small act and movement has such a power that it is remembered, passed down through many generations. Yet, this moment, those decades of small moments, all sweep past in the blink of the eye.
Powerful moments are they not? These moments pass through our emotional self consistently. Being part of a “Family” is amazingly heady stuff. This simple act each day is so much more than just a meal. Perhaps the way you move, hold a pan as you attempt a flip of its contents or the recipes you have lovingly shared over many years. These moments were meant to be savored, they are memories in the making……..shared and kept immortal by all of us. Therefore and most of all, enjoy every second you spend in that kitchen ……making those future memories.
There is no need to place guilt on yourself if you do not prepare multi dish meals every day. If your main family meal is one day a week, so be it. It is all about being together, making memories and sharing great food. Once your family, yourself included, realize that meals prepared at home are usually of superior quality and healthier than fast food and processed food, since you control what goes in each dish. (I prefer my burger and fries prepared at home.) Perhaps you could learn a couple good dishes and then expand on those. Soup for instance. Learn the basic soup recipe and then mix up the ingredients. It is truly amazing how creativity will take over. Everyone will think you a genius.
Most of my memories are from my married life. I had no such memories from my childhood. My mother did not prepare meals for I no recall of her cooking. I did however, become fascinated watching my friends parents, mom or dad, prepare a meal. It was emotional for me. It was not that I cried, it was the overwhelming experience of watching and learning. I learned that it was about food and sharing family dynamics. I remember my neighbor speaking of her mother and grandmother making the “best” food and showing me plates and serving dishes that were passed on, retaining her memory within them. As I grew up, (notice I did not say mature) I knew I had to learn to cook from memories of my friends, then with a simple trial and error method with recipes. I would read cookbooks as a novel at times. The Websters always at my side. No clue what those cooking terms or spices were. Didn’t always know what I was reading, but I muddled through. I knew I wanted to learn everything from scratch, literally. Oh, if only I had Food Network, cooking blogs and all those food shows on TV. Oh my! So not fair! This generation has it made.
Today, my 3 children are grown and are really, really good cooks. They take great pleasure in preparing, serving and sharing a meal. They will always have memories to savor and share.