What happens around and upon a Dining table?
Newspapers are read, homework is conducted, groceries are stacked, food is presented, nutrition is administered, meals are savored, stories are recounted, community is gathered, values are taught, emotions are shared, concepts are pondered, plans are made, babies are conceived, babies are born, rest is taken, love is offered...
The primary eating table in a house is no ordinary piece of furniture. It is the most potent place in a home, as more goes on around it than anywhere else. One often-employed, but frequently-overlooked, dimension to such a table is it allows home-dwellers to travel, as if upon a magic carpet. It is truly remarkable how far one can travel by sitting at one's own table.
When I first met Susan, she was a single mother of four very active, young children, who had led a fairly compressed life geographically. Yet, curiously the children bore a keen sense of the international world. Where did this heightened awareness come from, wondered the stranger, for it made no apparent sense? This family was certainly not jetting around the world to fancy resorts. After a number of meals on their home turf, amidst happy chaos, this incongruous mystery began to come clear.
Each meal at their table was prepared by a creative, resourceful, and willing mother. Each meal told a story of some sort, and each story became elaborate in its own way, stimulating imaginations, and transporting the family to new lands - Italy, France, Spain, Ireland, Germany, China, Japan, Vietnam... The name of the food, how it was cooked, and what the menu symbolized were discussed, rolled around on tongues, and ingested in mind and body. Story-time didn't start before bed that evening, but a few days previously when shopping for groceries (which they did in a pack). As a result, these wide-eyed, eager children laced their conversation with ongoing references to: guacamole, scallopini, escargots, tapis, borscht, dimsum, tagine, curry, uni, shitake, schnitzel..., by second nature. They developed unusual international vocabulary and thus sensitivity without leaving home.
When such children learn vocabulary and eat the food of a particular culture, they develop empathy and respect for it. This bodes well for the future, when they may find themselves in positions of leadership to engender connection and harmony among peoples, cultures, and nations.
The same is true for adults. Who needs carbon-burning jet-planes and exhausting, expensive international trips, when a creative hand in the kitchen can transport us to another culture, to be savored at one's own table during a relaxing evening? In the same time required to forebear intrusive security searches at airports these days, one can employ Table Travel to venture to India and back for an exquisite meal. So, why not?!
The above picture features pot roast on a wintery night. Where did that take us - perhaps to Robin Hood's Sherwood Forest, buried deep within English countryside, where archers relieve the 1% of their purses and maidens are protected in sylvan glens...
We will see you this Sunday, March 19, at Clark Montessori, which is the last Sunday before Easter. If you would like legs of lamb, hams, or other special products, please send us an email, so we are sure to bring enough.
May your table always have legs for travel,
Drausin & Susan
On-line ordering for delivery Wednesday the 30th is available at: http://www.grassrootsfoods.biz/ourproducts/