around the kitchen table

Author: angiem, 08 14th, 2009

Most of what I know about life, I learned around the kitchen table. Much to the dismay and embarrassment of my teenage self, ours was a family that ate all its breakfasts and dinners together. And while our parents rarely chastened our behaviors in public, home was an altogether different territory. Not only were we repeatedly reminded by the adults to sit up straight, take small bites, thoroughly chew our food, keep our elbows off the table, and not speak with our mouths full, we liked to remind each other as well. Sometimes the younger ones made a point of it, by shoving each other. After which, they were made to stand in the kitchen corners with their arms raised, backs to the room, as a reminder that hands were not given to us for hitting or shoving.

As the years went by everything was discussed around that table our father built, from the Sunday morning sermon (with beloved Tanti Marie doing perfect impersonations of the preacher) to current fashions to whether it was necessary that I get my starter bra. My mother’s traditional upbringing guaranteed us three course meals every day – soup, main course of some type of meat with two sides, one of potatoes, or rice and the other a salad, and to finish it off, dessert. This meant that instead of the normal 45 minutes, it took us an hour and a half to get done eating.

In fact, most of my childhood was spent either eating or learning to cook what we were about to eat. The kitchen was always a hub of activity, and countless times I couldn’t go to where I wanted because no one could give me a ride as they were all busy working on the next meal, or canning, or making preserves, or pickling. Besides that, the three of us girls were needed around the table to shell the peas, or peel the potatoes, or stuff the scooped out tomatoes with whatever stuffing mixture was prepared.

Because they were younger, my sisters got out of it pretty quickly and escaped to the yard with its lemon and orange trees and their dolls and dollhouses made out of shoeboxes. I, on the other hand, had to stay. “How do you expect to get married, if you don’t know how to cook?” My mother, or Tanti Marie, or grandmother would ask. I was only twelve, yet they had a point. Getting daughters married was a goal for my mother’s generation, and I was constantly reminded of it. So I stayed and did my part, and listened to their chatter.

I learned to read expressions and sudden silences. Certain words coupled with certain looks, meant certain things. I wonder if they ever suspected how much they were giving away. Or if they cared.

While I have become a bit more modernized than my mother, and share the cooking with my hubby, I still hold sacred the ritual of eating our meals together. All the essential lessons: good manners, love of family, love of life, are learned around the family table. I hope that this is a tradition that I will pass on to my children, and they to theirs.


9 Responses to “around the kitchen table”

  1. Jena Says:

    Let’s see, we ate lots of spam and frozen foods. My mom was a truly modern woman… she hated to cook.

  2. Mirela Says:

    So I am not replaying on your website cause you are doing a giveaway, Im only doing it cause I didnt know you wanted us to reply on your actual website and not facebook.
    One thing I loved when I was young and I still do, is when dinner time came around we were all at the table!! We were good at getting together at lunch as well, but dinner felt most important. It felt like the world slowed down, whatever were were doing in our lives, meetings with the youth or just going somehere, we always gave our plans up to eat together and then we kids would leave to whatever plans we had. To this day we do it, and we talk about anything and laugh about anything. I stress very much in my family as well!!!I really Enjoy your blogs!!

  3. Priscilla Says:

    Ahhhh yes… Eating together at the dining room table. I remember that so well. I looked forward to our converstations and enjoyed almost every minute of it. I hope I can give that to Giselle too.

  4. Vicki Archer Says:

    Eating around the table with your family is one of the most important times of the day, xv.

  5. Brittany Says:

    Although I love Target, the giveaway is not my reason to comment. As I have told you, I love reading your blogs. This entry is in my opinion, depicting what family is all about. Although my upbringing around the table usually happened at a restaurant, we were still together as a family. My mother didn’t cook too much so we would venture out or bring food in. I love entertaining and truly enjoy being in my kitchen and enjoying the food that we prepare with
    eachother and our family.

  6. Ligia Olvera Says:

    Angie, do you know that kids that share at least one meal daily with their parents have lower risk of starting their sexual life in their teenage years, have lower odds of trying drugs??? there is research about it… so what you are doing is great.. I do have diner daily with my little ones and that is the time to share our day… our troubles during the day and yes, some important lesson and values that we share trough reflecting in each other´s day… love the way you write… do not cook as much though only on vacation, holidays and when we invite friends or family… but is a great way of sharing and bonding too…

  7. Adina Says:

    Daily family time is so valuable, no matter how it’s spent. I also remember during my earlier years, all the times us, grand kids, spent at my grandmother’s house eating and cooking. I remember watching my grandmother baking her pastries or cakes every Saturday evening, to be ready for the Sunday, after-church meals. And then Sunday came around, and everyone gathered at her house for the meal. It was a big event every time. Those are great memories I cherish. I love reading your writing also, it’s so real and colorful. I always look forward to your next blog. Keep it up!

  8. Rachel Aron Says:

    I have to agree that the dinner table was for my family a place where we would all come together to share a meal, talk about our day, be taught lessons . I suppose my love for cooking and entertaining was passed down to me because of the seemingly endless lunches and dinners we had at our house and of course, that meant my being needed to help with the preparations. As I look back, some of my most treasured memories were around the table and I am hoping to instill the importance of family time to my children as my parents did. Angie, I look forward to your blogs and you have a wonderful talent in writing (and sharing) your feelings and memories with your readers! Te pup!

  9. Ani Says:

    Hmmm… either I don’t have a very good memory… or we really didn’t have too many dinners around the table with the whole family. My mom was 40 when my youngest sister was born. Both my parents always worked in Romania and when we came to America in 1988 they both had a day job and in the evenings they worked together as janitors. I do remember when we first came to America… very very clearly a freezer full of hot dogs! :-) My parents would buy them on sale and stuff the freezer. We thought they were a delicacy because in Romania “cremvusti” were a delicacy.

    But yah… when I was around 15 my mom was always on my case about learning how to cook cause no one is going to marry me if I don’t know how to cook… lol… I sure knew how to make hot dogs! ha ha ha lol…

    Memories… sweet memories… I’ve been married 10 years now and I think I know how to cook… I love to entertain… I love to have lots of people over… and I do LOVE to have a sit down dinner with my husband and children… We have a great time!

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