As we downsize, I realize that giving up certain things also involves giving up certain roles. At Christmas time we packed up my mother’s dishes (which had been her mother’s) and Bill’s mother’s dishes and took them to Maleita, our oldest daughter. Handing over the dishes as well as moving out of the big house made it clear to me that I wouldn’t be hosting the holiday meals. It’s a role I’ve loved – gathering whatever family and friends were available and enjoying good food and good companionship.
And it’s not just the holiday meals – we loved providing hospitality to people from all over. We were blessed with a house big enough to have people stay. Maybe because my work has often involved intangibles I love the concreteness and sensuality of cooking for people – the colors and scents and tastes, even the feel of stirring a risotto or kneading bread. I love figuring out what people enjoy eating and serving them that. I have to admit to a certain sadness at giving that up.
The surprise for me has been that I don’t have to give it up entirely. Our resident chef at Beacon Hill Friends House sometimes asks for a guest chef when he’s away. I’ve done that twice and thoroughly enjoyed it. Also, he doesn’t cook on Friday and Saturday nights – most of us go out or just pick something up. Bill and I have been gone a lot this week and feel like staying home and making a favorite Mexican cheese and corn pie tonight. I sent out a house email seeing if anyone wanted to join us. So far, eight of our housemates have said they’ll be there. We don’t have a big house, but we do live in one. We don’t have the family dishes, but tonight we do have the joy of cooking for people I hope will enjoy it. The menu: Mexican cheese and corn pie, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, and fresh bread from the French bakery.
How are your roles shifting?
So simple, so dramatic: To seek to gather everyone over food on a day when they might normally be at loose ends. Perhaps others will begin to offer to cook for the gang, too.
Thanks, Susan. Actually other housemates do cook for whomever is around on a weekend night from time to time. There are several of us who really enjoy cooking.
I have treasured memories of huge, hours-long, eat-and-eat-and-eat, impromptu-poetry-recital-accompanied Lebanese Sunday lunches with my wife’s family. Lunchtime stretched into afternoon, and evening, and yet it was still lunch.
From that great dinner we had at your place with Darine and her mom and your son, Anthony, I can imagine a slightly longer and more raucus version in Beirut!
thanks for sharing your thoughts, carol. i am trying to shift to becoming a consumer less influenced by advertising… for instance, by subscribing to a service in Vienna that for €20 delivers fresh fruit and vegetables to your door once a week. i enjoy being forced to stick to what i get (and that there’s much less trash involved). consequently, i feel pretty overwhelmed whenever i happen to enter a big supermarket 🙂