One day, while discussing with a co-worker what Brinn and I had prepared for our traditional Monday night dinner, it struck me, somewhere, that we had drifted a fair ways away from mainstream modern culture. It wasn’t that our dinner was odd or exotic; it was some pretty tasty smoked chicken ravioli in a nice walnut cream sauce (and some side dishes and such). What was culturally out of step with our Monday dinner was two things: 1) That we sat down at the table and enjoyed a relaxed meal (like together) and 2) The food was prepared from components. None of it was prepackaged.
Now the second item, making fresh food from real ingredients, is a subject that I want to defer talking about until another time and something that I will probably come back to regularly. I’m not a fanatic or anything, but it is important to talk about. But the first item deserves some attention as well and talking about it may give you some perspective into how life around our home works.
I am not going to even try to avoid sounding preachy about this one; sharing food, meals, and the preparation of them is a vital part of how you as a person and your household are defined. Its not just a good idea, or a nice thing, it is mandatory as a human being. I feel that the quality of your life degrades when you do not perform this simple, simple act. After all, every culture and creed out there has traditions regarding the preparing and serving of food. This is especially true when it comes to preparing and serving food for guests or loved ones. Such traditions permeate our cultural identities, identify elements of world cuisines, and if we were lucky, hold key places in our memories of growing up. When you neglect this aspect of yourself, you lose a sliver of yourself.
So that said, what does it say about us as a culture (American), as families, and as individuals that we have allowed such a crucial part of ourselves to just fall by the way side? I get it; everyone gets busy. Brinn and I are certainly no exception. In fact, there was a period while we were getting established in our jobs and working opposite schedules that meals together were few and far between. During that period, I think we compensated by hosting meals for our close friends just so that we could enjoy the experience of cooking and sharing with others. Over the last 5 years we have managed to progressively claw that time back. First Monday dinner, next Friday lunch before work, until we were cooking together and sitting down to enjoy each other’s company on most days of the week. It just took making the decision to care and to take the time.
So I offer a challenge to you reading this: fire up the stove and cook something for someone, or better yet, with someone this week. Then sit down and share the meal, the company, and a little bit of yourself as a person. Meager or extravagant, the cooking and sharing of a meal with another opens you up and sheds some light into who you are as a human being and how you express yourself. I don’t care what cultural or ethnic background you are…this need is hardwired in there somewhere. Just give in and do it. You may be surprised what the experience does to you.