Family Meal

Dear J-

Every few days we’ve been able to eat dinner as a family around the table; strange as it seems now, it hasn’t been something we do on a regular basis. Both theVet and I grew up in families with long hours and when we shared meals together, it was often balancing plates on the arm of the couch while the TV provided background distraction, at some late hour of the night. My mom used to come home from work between 6:30 and 7, so there was a lot of Jeopardy! and syndicated sitcoms on our diet. We had a table in the room where I used to do my homework; it would be interrupted by dinner and the attendant good smells coming in from the kitchen telling me it was time to pack up and put newspaper down over everything; as an old restaurant table, it was used to kids and food duty.

It’s strange to be able to sit down as a family unit, then; it’s not a background that we’re famililar with (although now that all of our parents are retired, whenever we visit is full-on family mealtime), and consequently we’re not great at it, bringing all kinds of distractions to the table (books, electronics, newspapers). The idea of a formal dinner party, say, is right out, though we may yet be able to demonstrate some semblance of normal before figgy is five.

One of the greetings in Chinese is whether or not you’ve eaten; food is something that’s paramount in our lives. The advice is to eat slowly so that you feel full faster, but these are written by people who have never been to restaurateurs’ banquets. We went to a few, all held late at night (after business hours, which are generally long for a restaurant) featuring and endless parade of dishes: chefs flexing their muscles and showing off dishes that don’t make the menu. It’s how I feel about family dinners: unexpectedly cosy, meals with focus and showcasing our talents.



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