Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Meal as celebration

Mac gave me two particular prizes as I helped her sort and pack over the weekend- -two items I've always wanted but have never bought for myself.

1. a copper saute pan
2. a cast iron skillet

The black cast iron skillet has already been properly seasoned, and that's something one cannot buy. It's ready to receive yellow cornbread batter on my next whim. What a delight! And maybe, because I'll have the right kind of pan, I could serve edible fried potatoes. In the wrong pan, I've burned them beyond recognition or the crisp skin stuck to the stainless steel pan.

Last night, I lifted the bright copper pan from it's new home- a hook on my kitchen pot rack. It's solid, shiny, heavy, flat on the bottom. It heated nicely on the red hot burner. The chopped onions I sauteed sizzled and popped as they grew transparent then carmelized into perfect squares of brown. How the right pan does make a difference.

I have been thinking about the simple celebration in a meal contained in each day. It's God's way to bring us together around something everyone enjoys. Good, hot, well-prepared food matters. I daily fight my tendency to make something easy, quick, hardly celebratory. There is not a time that my family is unappreciative in either case, but have I given my best when I'm thoughtless about dinner? That's no gift. I giggle when I think of the book Like Water for Chocolate in which the despair and bitter tears of the wedding cook poisons the guests. There's something to that isn't there? Is my attitude reflected in my cooking? I think it is. The attitude of others is revealed as well at table.

Last night, Tater and I prepared a lovely dinner of fish in white sauce, cheesy mashed potatoes, and spinach. Three minutes before it was time to savor the meal together, one of our children thundered at Buck and I over corrections to a diagrammed sentence and stormed out of the house. I knew the child's anger would not pass quickly, so the rest of us sat down to eat. Buck never eats when he's unhappy, so he sat with us, his head in his hands, sighing. A lot. The rest of us ate and tried to make the best of it, but consuming during discord never quite works. This meal revealed the upcoming task we must undertake to bring our child back to a place of peace. I predict hard work for us all and a bumpy summer with this person.

Hopefully, our next meal together tonight will have some celebration- even if it's to recognize everyone is present and happy for the moment. I'll do my part to put care into the food, and we'll see where things go from there.

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