One of my favorite traditions is our weekly family dinners. Everyone gets together, the piglets play and food and wine is shared. If everyone’s Sundays were spent this way, I think the world might be a happier place.
For as long as I can remember, this is what Sundays were about. Open the front door to my parents house and you’re instantly greeted with warm smiles, hugs and the enticing smell of food prepared with love. On any given Sunday, 15-20 of us gather around a table, say grace and indulge in some serious food.
Whether it’s a goat from my parents ranch or beef brought back from a recent trip to Nicaragua, the food almost always has a story and a history, just like those sitting around the table enjoying it. My moms parents immigrated from Norway when they were both young, crossing the foggy docks at Ellis Island. Dinner around their table always included Norwegian staples like open faced sandwiches, breads and jams, Fiskeboller (canned fish balls) or meat balls, served with mashed potatoes and a gravy of sorts. There was never a shortage of hot rolls and butter as well. Meals were always followed by copious amounts of coffee and the addicting, cardamon scented wafer cookies called Krumkake. The house was always warmed by a wood fire and after dinner, and everyone would huddle around the table for a variety of card games, more coffee and heated political conversations.
In stark contrast, my dads mom found her way to the U.S. via Spain. My grandfathers origins are bit more untraceable. Part American Indian, maybe part Italian, but he was 100% American. Born in Texas, he joined the Marines at the age of 14, by paying a homeless man to sign off as his dad. On leave, he met my grandma in the Russian River Resort area and they were soon married. Meals at their house were straight out of an old Betty Crocker cookbook. It was salty steaks, baked beans and potatoes or a slow cooked stew that my grandma would have simmering on the stove all day. Wild game and catfish often found it’s way into a cast iron skillet as well, depending on the luck of the hunt. And the smell of freshly baked zucchini bread would send us kids into a frenzy.
And while my grandma (the feisty, lovable Norwegian), is the only one, out of that great generation, that is still with us, the memories and joy of those shared meals still remain vibrant and alive. Just like the amazing personalities of those that put their heart and soul into the food. And my hope is that every Sunday, when we all sit down together to eat, that we can continue to create memories for our little ones. The future generation of piglets. And hopefully we can instill the joy and tradition of sharing food with those you love. And maybe… just maybe, recreate the warmth and sense of love that each of us felt every time we walked through our grandparents and parents doors.
This is WHY I cook.