The chef and restaurant owner thinks about what quarantine means to return to dinner and conversations with family and friends.
As a kid in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it seemed like there was a universally imposed dinner time in America: right after the 6 o’clock news.
My mom’s food was … well, it was … ummmm, let’s just say I’m really looking forward to this “TV Dinner” night – the Salisbury Steak in all its glory, and something like a fruit cobbler in a square compartment of a tin tray.
Recipe: Steak Salisbury from Bobby Fly
What matters is not what was on the dinner table. It’s what has been accomplished at the table: real conversations.
To be honest, I usually answer my parents’ questions with “yes, good” or “okay” but the dinner table is where my mom suppressed my fears, like serial killers (like Son Sam), where my dad taught me what it means to have ethics Good work and what it can bring into your life.
Beginning in the 1980s and 1990s, the enthusiasm for purely financial gain, the family meal was replaced by a sandwich of local cuisine, or a night spent in cheerful restaurants set aside for expenses. With this came the realization that we were losing those times at the family table as we discovered how to deal with the world, celebrate its successes, and deliberate on its failures.
In the late 1990s, I was fortunate enough to be trapped in the food revolution that provided me with a career. But most importantly, it gave me a way to connect and show my affection for the people I care most about: my family and friends.
I will always look to break the bread on my table, not just as a concept but in reality. I have cooked over 200 different dishes since mid-March. The only thing consistent was that it was a family style, so my newer, bubbly family could share it, well, like family.
We discuss with each other. We know each other. Most importantly, we listen to each other. There were some tears for sure, but it was mostly uncontrollable smiles and laughter.
This pandemic will be a part of us all forever. Personally, I’ll admit I prefer the face-to-face conversations that fill up my kitchen every single day. It is one of the things that I hope to keep when the word “natural” comes back.
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Story produced by Julie Krakow. Editor: George Bozderek.