2013-01-30

Its About the Meal Not the Food

I'm a little late posting this, but I wanted to give this topic the appropriate time I felt it deserved.

Our latest Mom Before Mom post from Carla at All of Me...Now:
What was your favorite home cooked meal as a kid? Did you help make it? How did it make you feel? Share the scents and sights and flavors.

The meal I remember most is honestly less about what we ate and more about who sat there.

It was the spring of my freshman year of school and I was already taking a semester off, reevaluating my school choice. I was living with my father in the little caretaker's apartment above the gymnasium at our church.  It was a tiny little one bedroom space with a walk-in closet we converted into my purple bedroom.  Within a mile from our home, our church, was a small conservative bible college/seminary.   My father and I got to know some of these students very well as they would come to the church for work and eventually just for a home cooked meal and a chance to socialize off campus.

Every Sunday my father and I would cook a mammoth pasta dinner, complete with garlic bread and ice cream pie (his original desert creation that was like a little bit of heaven poured into a graham cracker crust).  Shortly after church services were over, as we started the sauce heating and the water boiling,  the regulars and sometimes some less familiar faces, would wander into our humble home. 

The apartment would be warm, no matter what the temperature outside, the smell of garlic and sauce hung heavy in the air on the warmer days.There were far too many bodies for such a tiny space and we would eat at the small table, or while sitting on the couch or floor balancing our plates and cups on what little empty space we could find..  The food was good, it was always good, it was simple, traditional, well cooked, and always finished.

After dinner was done, we would all help to clear the table, the floor, the couch, clean the pots and pans, refill our drinks, and talk.  Some days it was conversation as simple at the latest movies that have come out or what news they had heard from their families at home as the regular 5 were from out of state.  Other days we would have almost heated discussions, sparked by the verses shared or the topics discussed at church that morning.

More often than not I sat on the sideline, mostly watching and listening, only interjecting when I felt strongly about what I had to say.  My father would act as mediator when there was a need, reminding them all that there may be different interpretations but we all agree on the same important core beliefs.  The discussion was heated at times, but there was always respect.

Some days if the weather was nice, some of us would head outside, we would sit and read in the field, play a pick up game of soccer or touch football, or just wander in the sun.  When the weather was less than welcoming we would head down to the gym and play pool or basket ball.  Eventually we would all say good bye as they headed back to the evening service on campus and I got ready for evening service at my church.

This  was such an important part of my life at that time, and in stark contrast to many of the other things I had going on.  I found I would crave that weekly meal.  A gathering of mind and spirit that gave me energy to charge ahead.  I learned how to discuss and disagree with tact and respect.

This Sunday dinner of pasta and bread was not about the food that was shared but about the people who were fed there each week.

22 comments:

  1. I love the title. What beautiful memories. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I love family traditions. YOu have some great memories!!! We also did similar antics growing up and loved every minute of it!

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  3. Lovely, and I love the sentiment that it is not the food but the meal! That rings so true to me for many of my great food memories!

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    1. I completely agree! I fondly remember Sunday dinners at my grandparent's house growing up!

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  4. I think the memories associated with the food are always better than the food itself. Whenever you eat something similar you get reminded of those times. :)

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  5. I agree with the other commenters that the memories are the best. I hope I can help my kids have memories like that as well!

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  6. The wonder and miracle of the people, the conversations (even heated!), the aromas, the table... all make the memories of meals/food so powerful. I love this post...

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  7. I completely agree...it is about the meal, not the food! I just think of all the family dinners I had growing up...I remember the conversation, the laughs & the stories...I don't remember all the food. I hope that I can make the same memories for our kids with family dinner every night!

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  8. Beautiful post Elizabeth. What great memories to have.

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  9. This is beautiful, Liz. So, so true about how the company can make the meal. :)

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  10. I love this story. I hope I can give my children the same experience someday!

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  11. So, so true. I always joke to my MIL, "Food is love!" But it isn't about the food, good as it is. It's about the coming together, the sharing of stories and the celebration of friends and family. Great post!

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    1. The first night my in laws met me - they were so excited and impressed at how heartily I ate - 19 years later, we've spent many a long hour around the table enjoying company and togetherness - and I can still eat great amounts of homemade pasta! :-)

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  12. mammoth pasta dinner made me laugh! Do you remember the Prince spaghetti commercials?

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  13. This post made me smile and totally warmed my heart. I love the memories that surround food and how they're carried with us for lifetimes. Your life is so interesting and I absolutely love hearing about your past. What a great, loving moment you had each week in your apartment with your dad and the company that meal brought in. Beautiful post, Liz!

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  14. I love, love LOVE this post. LOVE it. I feel like I was there! What a wonderful memory!

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  15. The food can sometimes take a backseat to the company.

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  16. What a fantastic memory. I felt as if I was there! We still eat a big old pasta dinner every Sunday, its just a tradition that we just can't break and I am so happy to have started it in my home now too. Food = memories and memories = food!

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  17. What a wonderful memory! The way you wrote that was lovely, I could really "experience" it with you!

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  18. What beautiful memories. I'm determined that we will have family meals as our kiddo grows up. It's so important. Thank you for sharing.

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  19. What a lovely post- and isn't that the truth! It really is the company you are with that really MAKES a meal. :)

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  20. Aww - how wonderful to have such priceless memories. Sounds like they were truly appreciative of the experience of your hospitality too!

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