Dine Together, Time Together [Blog #7]

As I sat to reflect on the eating experience of the first 18 years of my life, I realized that there are very few foods that actually stood out to me. Certainly when I return home from college my mom and grandma are sure to satisfy me with my two favorite comfort foods, my mom’s chicken pot pie and my Yamma’s oatmeal chocolate chip bars. But, I would not say food is the main aspect of our eating time together. Dinner, the meal I most often ate with family, is not as memorable as in regards to the food as it is about the time we spent together. As far as I can remember we always did our very best to have dinner as a family. Even when my dad was working an hour and a half away and wouldn’t be home until 7:30 or 8, we would still all hold out and wait to have dinner with him. As I interviewed my mom about cooking and feeding myself and my family she verified my memories of our meals. Dinner was not about the food, it was about taking anywhere from 15-30 minutes out of our day, with the TV turned off and cell phones put away, where we would focus on one another’s lives, sharing stories and making memories.

What did I hate eating when I was younger?

Not really sure I wouldn’t say you hated to eat anything maybe veggies in general.

What were my manners as a kid?

Always good, it was expected.

What are your favorite food memories of me growing up?

Most of the stories remembered about eating were about the eating together more than the food, but of course the famous ketchup story is the best!*

Is there a special meal that reminds you of me?

Chicken pot pie of course!

What were your goals regarding food for me prior to my birth, and how did they change?

I was small town comfort food was all I knew. I tried to do a balance of both.

What were the trials of cooking for me?

Pleasing you and not eating the same food over and over.

Did you cook for me or for yourself?

I would say in general to please the kids while also considering what I liked too.

What’s a memorable food experience?

The time around the table saying our highs and lows** for many years!

How did family dynamics affect your cooking?

It was always about pleasing my family!

What foods did you stop cooking once you started a family?

A lot of lighter meals like salads.

Do you regret cooking or feeding me anything?

No, not really.

How has your relationship with food changed over the years?

It has changed a lot actually, I am more willing to make better, healthier choices in general and choose less fast and fatty foods.

How did you start cooking—made you want to start?

I had a husband that needed to eat and then a family shortly there after that I needed to feed

What is your favorite meal to make?

My favorite meals to make are always the ones that make my children the happiest. But I love to make jambalaya.

What did your parents cook? Did you enjoy what they cooked?

Home cooking and yes most always.

Family meals growing up?

With 5 kids it was kinda crazy. I remember meals being at home waiting for us. I don’t remember us always eating together necessarily, but I remember my mom’s meals as a way to make us feel good. It was never about the food, it was about making us happy. Dinnertime was never about the food, we could eat as much or as little as we wanted. I think I used that similar mentality in raising my own family.

Our family meals?

Time for us to come together, and put everything else aside. Cooking our family dinners was a way for me to show my family I loved them. Eating together no matter what was on the table. It was important to have that family time. A niche in the day that we would always come together. It was a priority for us to be together.

What do you hope I will cook when I have my own family?

It’s not what you cook as much as having a healthy balanced life with good food choices-that is important.

Do you wish you made more of something?

Sometimes I wish I was more adventurous in cooking maybe when it’s just your dad and I and I don’t have to worry about what I’m making we will just try new things.

After the interview with my mom I found that we held the same views on our meal time together. We could have eaten take-out or a 5 course meal, and the memory of the food would fade behind the significance of conversation and bonding that enhanced the relationships between my family members. Much like my mom I aspire model my family’s meal times after the one’s I had as a child. Even as a 21 year old I find that I enjoy making food for others as a vehicle for happiness and satisfaction. At least once a week I will have what my friends and I call a “family dinner”, where we all get together and make dinner and spend the evening together. Often the food itself is great, but the point is for us to get together. Food brings people together, whether it is a horrible meal or one of the best. The time we eat with others ensures time we share together.

*Ketchup story: When I was about 3 years old I, my mom and grandma were having lunch at a restaurant in Julian, California. As my mom and grandma were chatting away about something I sat on the inside of the booth and began telling them how much I loooooved ketchup. Without paying too much attention they told me that was great and kept on with their conversation. For a few minutes I continued to claim my love for ketchup without much acknowledgement. Finally one of them looked over to me, straw in the ketchup bottle sipping away at the ketchup.

**High and lows: My mom came home with idea that during dinner we would go around the table and share the highest point of our day and the lowest. This led to us sharing many stories and laughs as we ate together.

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