Reflections: Family Food

More than ever in the last few months, it is brought home to me how truly the food we eat is a reflection of who we are as humans. The food we eat directly correlates to how we function in our separate cultures, families, friendships and lives.

Growing up, family dinner was not an option, and setting the table and doing the dishes were, and for the most part still are, a scheduled and expected part of our daily routine as a family. I used to watch my Mom prepare dinner with wide eyes, always excited by the prospect of whatever yummy thing we were having for dinner, unless it involved eggplant or mushrooms of course. How did she know how to do it all, I wondered? I would watch her mash potatoes or throw together salads, concoct her amazing chili or stews and soups, and marvel in all the variety and anticipation. What are we having for dinner? was a very common question.

Dinner-times vary in enjoy-ability, because everyone’s mood really comes out at the dinner table. The stories of the day are shared, plans are discussed, and orders are given. Books were sometimes read aloud, especially during Sunday breakfast. I treasure all those moments, even the tough ones, because they allowed me to grow in knowledge and understanding of the people who I had no choice in spending most of my growing up time with, and this is an invaluable advantage in family life. But no matter what the vibe at the table, the food was always to die for. I think I remember two bad meals from my Mother in my entire life. She is a goddess in the kitchen. And she never made a big deal out of it. She accepted cooking as one of her many responsibilities as a mother. It took a lot of time, but at the end, she got to watch all her children devour it in about half an hour. On second thought maybe that wasn’t so enjoyable. 🙂

If your food comes out of a box the exact same way every day, you’ll expect everything else in life to work that way too. And eventually you will expect humans to taste like the box you expect them to come from as well. On the flip side, if you respect the endless variety and challenges of food and feeding yourself, you will look for and respect this quality in your fellow humans as well.

What is appealing about a powdered potato? Answer: You know exactly what its going to taste like, its fast, and it takes hardly any work. No one questions if it’s taste, while consistent, is worth tasting. No one asked why we want dinner on the table fast, or why all of a sudden we don’t want to work for our food. Maybe its because we don’t want to work for anything, or because we feel like we already worked hard enough at work, or because we are too impatient to get to the TV show we’ve been looking forward to all day to care what we eat. Or maybe its a combination of all these things.

Maybe if we looked forward to making what we are going to fuel our bodies with, our priorities would fall into a natural order. Either way, I know I thank my parents every day for making me conscious of the great joys and importance of food. And now I am off to make some fantastic carrot cake! It doesn’t get much better than that! (Well, perhaps the cinnamon rolls pictured above were close. 🙂 Thank you Cook’s Country!)

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