If you come to my home, I am going to want to make you food. Whether you are a friend helping with a chore around the house, or a family member dropping in, there is undeniable need to provide food for you, to show you how much I appreciate you.
Whenever my family gets together there is food. It’s a part of the conversation and fellowship to bring bounty for everyone to share. Between the mouthfuls and moans the conversation seems to be easier as we all fill our bellies with the prepared loved set before us.
When we congregate, the women gather in the kitchen and the men in the living room. This is usually because when we come over the event does not last for a couple of hours, but rather the day, and a large portion of the event is making the meal. All the women in my life shuffling past each other as everyone one familiarizes themselves with the kitchen du jour as we prepare our portion of the potluck.
When I think back to my childhood growing up, very rarely is there a memory that did not involve a meal. There are pig roasts, Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners – the usual suspects in the memory line up. And then there are those memories that blur with one another like the phone calls from my Mom before she leaves work to instruct us how to make dinner before we rush off to church on a Wednesday night. I remember rolling my eyes and scoffing while the oven temperature was given, and thawing instructions were carefully advised. I remembering thinking, “All my friends’ moms make dinner for them, and they work too! Why do I have to make dinner?” Then came the later years when my friends in college would barely scrape by making Kraft Dinner, while I knew exactly how to prepare schnitzel with mashed potatoes, all thanks to my mom asking us to help her out by making dinner. (Thank you, Mom!)
Where I sit at work, my desk is linked to two other women, one of which reminds me so much of my mom, especially at 5 pm as she calls home to her two girls and lets them know what they need to make for dinner, what vegetables to make and which meat to thaw.
Most dread making dinner after a long day at work, which I can relate to at times. However when I come home from work, and I am able to pour myself a glass of wine as I make Cody and I dinner for the evening, I completely decompress from the day of go-go-go, like the perfect prescription. I am going to recommend spaghetti with home-made garlic bread to help battle a nasty case of “humpdayitis”, and nothing cures the “Sunday-blues” like shepherds pie. Are you in a funk? I recommend home-made fried chicken.
Recipes are passed down from generation to generation, with each putting their own twist on it making it their own. My dad taught us how to make salt cod and potatoes while my mom passed down recipe after recipe of daily love. Food is a universal language. What ever your background is, every culture speaks food. When you travel to a different city, country, province, state, you search for different cuisine to try based on locals’ recommendations. It is part of the experience to do like the locals do.
During a visit with my grandma, she told me stories of how her cooking style had changed when she married my grandpa. Her whole life growing up in Moncton her mother made dinner for her family and it was the same thing: meat and potatoes. My grandma expanded her pallet with chilli, stews, roasts, spaghetti, lasagne. She then talked about the influences that my dad had on my mother and her cooking style since he was Portuguese, introducing her to new things. With each generation evolving from the next my recipe book has origins from all the woman and men in my family before me. My meals are a colourful depiction of where I came from, and a starting off point for my children to carry on.
If you come over, I will want to cook for you, to tell you a story of who I am and where I come from.