Monday, March 9, 2009

Dinner Rituals, 2009

About 4 pm I start working on dinner for my family on the days I’m not at my part-time job. Habitually I turn on “Oprah” to keep me company. I enjoy working with the food and not having to dodge around actual human bodies. Having the girl talk on the TV somehow helps my domestic goddess to emerge.

On the first night of our turn to have Evan, Victor’s 7 year old, I always try to cook child-friendly meals – tacos, spaghetti & meatballs, minestrone or chicken noodle soup. Evan has developed a strategy for not burning his mouth on my homemade soup. He puts ice cubes into it. It’s his ritual now. He does it even if the soup isn’t too hot. I guess the comfort of that ritual might help make up for the adjusting he has to do to eat dinner in two different homes with two different cuisines and routines.

My daughter, Alana, 19, surprised us a month ago my eating dinner with us 3 nights in a row. Usually she waits until we’re done and scavenges or fixes her own meal according to her latest dietary rules. She is finding her way to a sustainable way to eat through her food addictions.

Matt, also 19, comes up from his basement lair to check on dinner plans about 5 pm. “Cool.” He never complains about what we have to eat, merely avoiding what doesn’t appeal, sometimes picking out specific morsels which he puts to the side of his plate. He likes lots of paper napkins available. He usually has a second supper about 10 pm, just after his dad and I have retired to bed. This must sustain him for his late night on-line video games.

Victor’s dinner rituals are as old as Holland, so old to be translucent. He eats as regularly as clockwork. He holds his knife and fork in the European manner, fork in his left hand with knife poised in his right. His immigrant parents taught him so. But none of his children follow the tradition.

And so we sit at our table together, each with their own rituals, the dinner table being the life raft of our fantasies of family.

--by Terra Rafael

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