My busy mother, enrolled full-time in grad school, cooked lots of one-pot meals. And while dinner was often served later in the evening (how European of us!) it was always served around our big, sturdy, oak kitchen table.
“Mom, what’s for dinner?”
“Oh, are you hungry? What time is it? Almost 9 o’clock, hmmm…”
Mom turned to the fridge and the pantry and threw something together. Usually pasta tossed with olive oil, parmesan cheese and a random medley of vegetables.
The kitchen was attached to a sunny, yellow dining room Mom called, “The Breakfast Nook.” My sister and I had the job of setting the table with placemats, silverware, and cloth napkins.
Honestly, the food was not usually that memorable! It was simple, I was never hungry when I went to bed.
What I remember is talking to each other about everything going on in our lives.
Mom and Dad included us in the conversation.
They asked us about our homework. We planned upcoming weekend trips to food festivals or one of the small towns within an hour’s drive of our house.
And we learned about the world of responsibility, big projects, work and family by listening to our parents’ conversation. They discussed the ongoing remodeling of our house, what dad was working on, or the latest news of aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.
This was our perfectly imperfect Cherry Family dinner ritual and I have held on to all the best parts. Perhaps it is because of, and not in spite of, the chaos of our typical family life that I walked away with a love of food and cooking. And that I sit down to dinner at the dining table most nights of the week.
We are all looking to carry on the best of our family traditions as well as creating our own. And we can all use a little inspiration!
So tell us, what is your family dinner tradition, past or present?
Is there a question you ask your children at dinner every night?
Maybe the very same one your parents asked you all those years ago?