The love of family dinners


As the summer clouds lit by the setting sun is simply gorgeous this time of year, the view inspires us to reflect on the last year which has lasted for three. 

Moms (and Dads) have been feeding us for generations. Good or bad, what they put on the table was filled with as much love as they could muster. Even after a long day, they still worked to put a meal together. 

When I was in high school, we traveled in packs, at first transported by our moms, then by bike, and eventually, the moment 16 arrived, by borrowed car. And wherever we landed, no matter how many of us there were, we would eat dinner there. 

The food itself didn’t matter so much; it was always good because we were hungry, and you could taste the love that was put into it. 

At the bicycle stage we would sometimes choose to go Dairy Joy for hamburgers, fries and a cone of raspberry sherbet. When we got to the car stage, we skipped stopping at our homes and went for New London Style Pizza in Concord. 

All of it was good, for the company you keep makes food taste great! 

I can still get pizza and raspberry sherbet. The moms, though, have mostly all passed away. Even if the meals they made were old-fashioned and out of style, I still miss them and the love that was cooked in. 

Some of the most memorable meals are not the ones that are amazing, but the opposite – meals that were made from an old family recipe handed down from grandmother to mother. No recipe was used – not sure if that would have helped – but often it was just a memory, a little of this and a lot of that. 

And that was the exciting part. We were a rambunctious group and more than once someone’s mother offered to hit me on the back of the head with a spoon saying: “You’re not too old for me to paddle you!”. All because I dared to ask what it was we were eating. 

With all family dishes, if we are lucky enough, we get a box of recipes passed on to us. Within the box there are a few winners of course, yet realistically what was good 50 years or more ago might not be so good anymore. 

Ingredients themselves have changed. The flour my mom used had a short shelf life; today with all the desiccants, flour lasts forever. Milk and butter taste different, we have access to better and more varieties of chocolate, seasonings, even fresh fruits and vegetables. And now the end result of our cooking is different. 

We modify ingredients and recipes to match our taste buds of today, all the while paying homage to our moms. What is passed on from these recipes is the love and caring our parents shared through food brought to the table. 

It is not the flavor of the food that I miss, it is the memory of being at the table together and the love we were fed.