I like food. I like to cook it. Bake it. Broil it. Eat it. Well, you get the idea. Coming from a big Italian family, we spent Sundays in two places: At our Church and at our Table. Those were the two most important places in my family. At one, we praised God, and another, we praised the cook. When I was younger, it was my grandmother, Dorothy Maglio Fitzgerald, who did the cooking. Every Sunday she’d come home from church, grab her apron and her wooden spoon, and smile. She knew the meal she was preparing would be devoured, and having seconds were never an option, it was a requirement.
She would sing and dance around the kitchen, flirting with my grandfather all the while, and he’d wink at her when he thought we weren’t looking.
Everything was made from “scratch” – homemade meatballs, pasta & raviolis, sausages & pork that she’d serve on a platter next to her pasta e fagioli and tomato & cucumber salad.
I learned to love food by watching her. To her, food was her way of showing love to her family. And funny, when she passed, the only thing I wanted was her wooden spoon. I cook with it still.
As I grew older, it was my mom who did all the cooking and baking, and keeping us well fed from morning until bedtime. My mom branched out from just Italian dishes. She taught me how to make Swedish Meatballs, Meatloaf, mini-cheesecakes, and the best chocolate chip cookies on this earth.
So, my love of food is deep.
And with 3 kids and a business to run, I find it hard to do the weekly Sunday dinners. But what I learned in my Nana’s kitchen, and in my own home growing up, is that the meal is what brings you together. It’s a chance to decompress, to shut the worries of the world away, if only for a blip in time, and sit together as a family.
Every night I prepare dinner for my family. Sometimes it’s as simple as chicken pot pie, and other times it’s homemade chicken cutlets, meatballs and pasta with garlic bread. (Those are the nights I’m feeling nostalgic).
Today, table meals have become almost non-existent; replaced by fast food in the car, eating on the run to dance, baseball, or football. Or preparing a meal only to have the kids scatter to the tv room. Believe me, it’s happened to me, too.
We get so wrapped up with life, that we forget to share our lives with the most important people in it. Our family.
These moments are fleeting. I’d give anything to sit at my grandparents’ table again, or wake up to the smell of bacon & eggs, with my mom in the kitchen of my childhood home. But I’m a grown up now – and its my turn to create those memories for my children.
I get it though – we lead busy lives. There’s too much to remember. Too many appointments and commitments. Planning meals can be time consuming. Maybe you don’t like to cook. Maybe you don’t know how. So, what! It doesn’t have to be a 5-course meal. Its sitting together as a family, talking about your day, without cell phones, without the television humming along in the background.
I know my children complain from time to time about the nightly meals. “Why can’t we eat in the living room?” “Why do we have to sit at the table and TALK!” Yah, that’s fun. But it’s worth it. It’s where I learned that my son got an A in Math, after struggling with Cs and Ds. I learned that my daughter is a natural born actress, and my middle boy has a passion for art.
Trivial stuff? Maybe. But all those trivial things add up to a life well spent.