Something happens when people sit around a table and eat together.
I’m really not sure what it is, or how to explain it. There’s that innate connection between food and people. Not just a “oh yes, everyone has to eat” type of connection. But one that makes a meal shared with family and friends ever more enjoyable than eating alone.
I grew up in a family where Sunday dinner was the highlight of my week. Yes, Friday was great…the end of the school week! Saturday was also great because I still had Sunday to be lazy. But Sunday dinnertime was my absolute favorite. It couldn’t be beaten.
My dad would cook for my family, often asking for the assistance of me and my sister, Mary. Since I took on to an interest in cooking right away, my dad nicknamed me his “little sous chef,” which, to a little Grace, was a very big deal.
I took my job VERY seriously. But what was particularly memorable, was that my dad took me very seriously, too. He’d often give me free reigns on creating flavor combinations, which, I suppose wasn’t always loved by those eating those creations, but was cherished by me.
Sitting down at the dinner table was more to me than eating great food.
Do you ever remember the smell of something so distinctly, that it brings you back to that very specific moment you first smelled it?
To this day, when I’m cooking, scents of cooking with my dad bring me back to those very family dinners. Whether it be making carbonara with the yeasty smell of pasta boiling or the tart scent of tomatoes roasting in the oven, I picture Sundays, sitting in a straight-back wooden chair in my family’s barn-red dining room. A paper napkin tucked on my lap (as my parents schooled me to do), some very old-school Frank Sinatra crooning in the background, and those aromas of home.
At the family table – I remember the clatter of forks scrapping against my mom’s favorite blue and white plates, the smiles, the smells, and the food that brought my family back to Sunday dinner.
Even with passing years – as I now approach my 23rd year – those memories will never leave me without a smile and a rumbling belly.