I wasn’t sure what to make of the new packaging with the shredded cheese that stands on it’s own until Taco Night, when I was happy not to have one more bowl to wash… Turns out I like the cheese that stands alone…
Which made me think about how much I love our informal meals, and how I will take anything that helps me get meals on the table. (Within reason. I have yet to find a steam-in-the-bag veggie that seems as good as prepping it myself. But that line is different for every family cook.) I think about how my mother never let a deli-meat hit the table still in its wrapper, or how an older home-ec professional directing a photo shoot I was working on freaked out when I put a ketchup bottle on the table and promptly removed it. (“I was taught never to have a ketchup bottle on the table!”)
I just can’t do it. I can’t make every meal pretty. I can’t be bothered to put ketchup in a bowl with a little spoon, or remove sliced turkey and cheese from the wrappers, only to have to put them back at the end of the meal. If I had to make it perfect, I wouldn’t do it at all—like one dad who turned his back on family meals because his only frame of reference was the formal, quiet family affairs he grew up with.
I still have the pretty white table cloth for special occasions, but I don’t iron it, and last Easter, I just pushed a bunch of stuff to one side of the table, and put the table cloth right over it… Still special, without all the fuss Mom, if you are reading this, forgive me. I’m happy, and that’s all what matters, right?
Times have changed. We are less formal, I don’t iron my underpants—or much of anything really—and I’m good with that. But I am following one very important tradition that may seem old-fashioned. Like my mother, I cook (though I eat out and rely on convenience foods more than she did—which was pretty much never) and I sit and enjoy delicious food with my family almost every night.
What traditions have you held on to, what have you improved on, and what have you let go?
Speaking of family meals and tradition, if you want to watch a fun special on food and family where I cook my mom’s German red cabbage and manage not to lop off the tip of my finger, check out this link for your local PBS showing of the Heirloom Meals Christmas Special.