Monday, April 29, 2013

Family Dinner

Tonight's post was inspired by the awesome, talented & inspiring Shauna at Gluten Free Girl, who recently encouraged people to share their experiences about family dinner.  Shauna & Danny, her partner in life, love and the kitchen, are celebrating the release of a new cookbook that I cannot wait to get my hands on.  I've been reading Shauna's words for years, swooning over her stories and recipes, always in awe of the way she manages to cut straight to the core of my heart, no matter what kind of tale she is telling.  I'm not gluten free but the recipes she and Danny create are recipes that sing to me.  These two know food, and love food, and love sharing their creations, and that inspires me greatly on so many levels.

So as it turned out, tonight, we had dinner with a few dear friends.  Spontaneous.  Throw some stuff on the grill.  Bring what ya got and we'll combine it with what we've got, and dinner will be born.  And it was lovely and a feast beyond delicious.  Grilled asparagus with roasted red peppers marinated in balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Grilled fish & sausages, and two kinds of salads.  One was a slaw with red cabbage, parsley, pickled jalapeƱos & cider vinegar that I make a lot in the summertime.  Spicy, salty, crunchy, and the perfect accompaniment to anything grilled.  And then, since I had all the ingredients, I made this Barefoot Contessa recipe for celery hearts marinated in an anchovy & lemon vinaigrette, topped with shaved parmesan & fresh parsley.  And whoa and wow!!  It pretty much made everyone stop & re-think everything we may have ever thought about celery as the star of the show.  Or rather, it made everyone think that celery actually *can* be the star of the show. I'm pretty sure I'll be making this salad every chance I get.  It was that good.

But, I kind of digress.  We were talking about family dinner.  My family always had them, and I guess I took them for granted.  And same with the little mister.  Whether you showed up on time or not, in both of our families, family dinner happened.   And it was expected that you would be there and participate, whether that meant helping prep the food, or setting the table, or clearing the table, or just talking about your day.  Even though we ate a lot of delicious and comforting foods at our table, it wasn't so much about what was being served, as about being together at the table.  The showing up at the table was a consistent part of both of our upbringings, and it's a tradition that we have carried into our respective adulthoods and our life together.  And although our family consists of just the two of us and our dogs, we are lucky to have a wide circle of wonderful friends who frequently join us for spontaneous gatherings, showing up with with a little something or other to combine with our little something or other, and together we make our feast.

Tonight was one of those spontaneous dinner nights.  We all sat around the table discussing our upbringings and our experiences of family dinners, and I learned that both the mister and I are very lucky indeed that we had parents who showed up at all, parents who cared enough to feed us and talk to us and wanted to know about our days. I think I always took it for granted that this was just what people did. I know now that every family is different, and I feel lucky for the one that I was born into, that I am still fortunate to be a part of, even though we are scattered all over the place these days.  When we do come together, gathering around the table is still a huge part of our experience, and I am so, so grateful for that.  And when I can't be with the family that I was born into, I feel lucky for the wonderful friends that have become family in their own way.

So three cheers for family dinner, whatever family means to you, and whatever your dinner is like. And three cheers for the new Gluten Free Girl cookbook, which I can hardly wait to dig into!