Personal Narrative- The Importance of Family Dining
"Never forget that your family is really the most important assembly you ever entertain."
-Irma S. Rombauer, Joy of Cooking
I awaken this morning with the aroma of bacon calling me to the kitchen. Upon my arrival I witness the table set for five, complete with imported European coffee, buttered toast, maple syrup, fresh squeezed orange juice, and a stack of pancakes so tall it continues to wobble trying to find a center of gravity. Alongside the table stands Isabella, a teacher, visiting us from Santiago, Chile. She will be our houseguest for the next six months and is eager to teach our family all she knows about South America, including its cuisine. Isabella, however has not forgotten the pancakes of North America, eaten on a previous trip and is looking forward to a reunion with the fluffy stack standing beside her. Gary has left the house early this morning hoping to catch up with his patients prior to their being medicated for surgery. The boys nearly trample Isabella over in their rush out the door to meet the carpool's blaring horn signaling the urgency of departure time. Matthew, blazing by the breakfast table, wraps a piece of bacon tightly in a blanket of pancake, dips it into the warm syrup and without breaking stride, runs to meet the waiting car ready to take him to school.
Seeing the look of disappointment on Isabella’s face, I begin to feel for the first time a need for serious mealtime reform to take place in our house. When I read Mr. Berry's essay titled, "The Pleasures of Eating", specifically when he describes, "Our kitchens and other eating places more and more resemble filling stations"(232), an eerie sensation comes over me - I can't believe how well I am able to connect with what he has to say. Often, I have resented the sensation of being a short order cook; boys bellowing food preferences – running, grabbing, and choking down whatever food I have prepared, leaving me to feel like I was nothing more than a servant, not a mother. Our house is truly one of the "filling stations"(232) that Berry so eloquently describes:
We hurry through our meals to go to work and hurry through our work in order to "recreate" ourselves in the evenings and on weekends and vacations. And then we hurry, with the greatest possible speed and noise and violence, through our recreation - for what?(232).
Berry might as well have been sitting at my kitchen table, using my Emily's situation as an example of what he was referring to in his essay. No consideration had ever been given to the need for spiritual refueling when meals were consumed by my own family members.
Isabella was not accustomed to meals on the run. Her coming to stay with my family was just what I needed to help me put a stop to the consumption of meals without regard to the need for spiritual replenishment. With this new awareness, no longer could I permit mealtime to be treated as just a time of caloric intake....