Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sitting around the table

My fondest memories have been birthed around a table it seems. I grew up in a household where there was much love.  Love for family was expressed by doing special things for each other, often by preparing their very favorite foods.

To my grandparents, an abundance of food was symbolic for the opulence of their home in this country, but it was never taken for granted. It was blessed, thanks was given for it, and it was never, ever wasted. Everything left, ultimately became a soup or a stew. Both of my Grandmothers were renowned for their cleverness and ability to craft a wonderful meal from seemingly nothing. I try to hone that skill.

Sometimes my Mom used food as a lovely little hint. As the potato pancakes or leberknodel soup would appear on the table Dad knew he was about to be hit up for a little extra money in the shopping budget for some household improvement or a new outfit.  Mother truly knew the way to a man's heart as well as his purse strings was routed directly through his stomach. This wasn't "fancy" food, but it took time to prepare and she knew we loved it.

Summer as a child on my uncles farm, the table prepared for lunch with pies...too many to count. Aunt Carol and my introduction to home made bread. Surely the beginnings of my passion for baking all things pie and bread.

Neighborliness took the form of many neighborhood cookouts and weekly coffee klatches with a dizzying array of pastries or cakes and donuts.  All rounded out by numerous church diners, luncheons, booyas etc.  When someone married there was a banquet, when they were born there was a banquet, birthdays, funerals, every gathering was a reason to feed people.

I love to cook. Not for myself. Oh, I would definitely cook something for myself if I were hungry for it.
Particularly the many ethnic dishes that I'm fond of, but if it were just for myself I would cook a lot of soup. Once made, it's the perfect fast food with a nice crust of homemade bread.  Oh, but, I love to cook for people. I love to be able to give something of value, something you don't just run out and buy, or slip in a card. Something that takes time and appeals to all the senses. That's real food. A perfect gift.

I share this heritage of a family that cooked and I love sharing food with people. Never in the course of our contact with other people do we share such intimate and stimulating conversation under such relaxed circumstances as when we sit down to table with one another.

Grab some tea, pull up a chair, let's share something tasty and homemade......