I just finished reading a book by author Rick Bragg, called The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table. No, this isn’t going to be book review (although I will tell you that I enjoyed the book tremendously). It is, however, going to be about bringing families and friends together over a table of food.
It isn’t necessarily true that everybody thinks their mother’s cooking is the best. There are moms who can’t cook a lick. They probably don’t like to cook, and perhaps their moms didn’t like to cook either. Still, most of us are used to eating meat loaf or fried chicken or vegetable beef soup the way our moms prepared it. I do, anyway. You need to throw a beef shank into a bowl of vegetable soup before you can call it vegetable beef soup. I’m firm on that.
And before anyone gets up in arms, yes, I realize that men cook too. I’m sure there were even fathers of those of us in the Baby Boomer generation who cooked, though I would venture to say that was somewhat unusual. Times have changed; in fact, times had changed even when my son was born. It wasn’t unusual for Court’s dad to make dinner.
But mostly what I got out of the above-referenced book was the importance his family placed on preparing food as part of gathering together friends and family. That was certainly the way I was brought up. It wasn’t simply cooking; it was feeding those you love. It was gathering together and saying grace and laughing and talking as the food is passed around the table.
I come from a long line of good cooks from both sides of my family. I have memories of many meals prepared by a lot of wonderful cooks. I especially remember holidays and summer gatherings of all sorts. There would be turkey and dressing, or fried chicken and potato salad and homemade three-day dill pickles and coleslaw and cookies and brownies, all washed own with beer or pop, and made better by the sounds of laughter.
I learned to cook from watching my mom prepare dinner every single night. I not only learned to cook, I learned the importance of feeding those we care about. When I heard that my friend had passed away last week, the first thing I did was begin to prepare food. Without even giving it a thought, I looked in my refrigerator and my pantry and figured out that I had the ingredients to make a bacon and spinach quiche and a pan of brownies. It’s how I roll. It’s what I learned from my family of great cooks.
My siblings and I share a love for cooking…..
…..and our need to provide fellowship over plates of food was passed on to our kids……