I served up some of my Pea and Ham soup with crusty bread rolls for lunch on the weekend. All lovingly handmade by me, much to my deep dissatisfaction.
10 minutes flat and it was all gone. Did we enjoy it any more than a tin of Cream of Chicken and a loaf of sliced wholemeal? Maybe. But that's still only 10 minutes of enjoyment for about an hour and 10's worth of work.
I know other people find cooking for their family infinitely more fulfilling than I do, but it occurred to me today that the rituals of life have changed such that what was once a satisfying thing to do now seems so utterly pointless. It's not just that we can buy an inferior version at the shops and save ourselves the time. It's more than that.
When we were younger, LOML and I had the good fortune of spending a month at his Zio and Zia's olive grove in Benevento, just outside Naples in Italy. The family produced the raw olives that went to a local manufacturer to be turned into olive oil. All day they worked in the grove, picking the olives, sorting the olives and packing the olives. They worked just as hard preparing a hearty lunch - insalata, pasta, meats and cheeses. The pasta sauce would be bubbling away on the stove all morning and eaten with relish by hungry workers come lunch time.
But this wasn't a meal shoved hastily down before the business of the day resumed. This was a meal that was looked forward to; beckoning and lingered over. Everyone stopped work, sat back and enjoyed each other's company. What was still left to do that day was not talked about (at least, I don't think it was, rudimentary as my Italian is!), but rather life was the subject of discussion and there was no rush to the meal whatsoever.
All meals were eaten in this same lingering fashion. Meals were not something to hurry through on your way to something else. Regardless of how busy the day was, the meal and conversation took absolute priority. Indeed, it was the very reason for working so hard in the first place. Life in this fashion is humble, noticed and ultimately satisfying.
I compare that to the way my family eats today and I am not surprised that cooking gives me so little satisfaction. My children eat by themselves throughout the week and weekends are generally rushed enough that a meal is a mere fueling stop in the day or tacked onto the end as an after-thought. There are no loving rituals and, while the food in enjoyed and appreciated, there is no lingering or true 'breaking of bread'.
The Tsunamis are young yet. There is time to train ourselves to slow down and linger a little over lunch and dinner. Maybe even breakfast if I can totally get my act together. I think it's important. I think it's as important as... life.
How do you eat your meals?
[Image by Kelly Hornberger]