Here I sit, eating a strange, but good, concoction. It’s a pile of roasted veggies topped with some lean ham and a wee bit of swiss cheese. Not at all fancy, and frankly, it would be good over some pasta or brown rice, but I’m just too tired to even microwave rice!
But I started thinking about weekend food. These days, it’s not much different for me than weekday food. Perhaps a bit less regimented, as the lunch bag is never packed, but pretty much the same.
Back in the good old days, it was different. My Dad, a first generation Italian from NYC, lived for weekend food. It had to be high quality, almost party food. Great steaks, lovingly prepared sauces, toppings, veggies, salads were important. It was preferably shared with friends, and included a good bottle or two of wine. Sunday dinner was good, but the real event was Saturday night.
And such ceremony and planning! Across the street was a family whose dad also loved to cook. The two men spent many a Saturday afternoon going back and forth, offering samples and suggestions to each other. Mr. B’s clam chowder for Dad’s “steak sauce,” a heady concoction based on a reduction of a dry red wine.
I was the dessert queen. Let’s not talk about it right now, or we’ll descend very quickly into food porn.
Looking back on it, this was all an expression of love and community. I learned a lot – how to make a fish stock and fabulous bouillabaisse, how to balance sweet and sour in a salad dressing, incorporating a variety of tastes and textures so that the meal is interesting. And keeping the connections among family and friends.
Too bad the food=love connection was so strong. If a person didn’t eat for any reason, they either weren’t a good friend, or they didn’t like it. If the first, they were never invited again. If the second, an entire second meal often appeared.
I miss those days in many respects, even though there was way too much emphasis on the food. The love, caring, togetherness were the important parts. One of these days, I’ll resurrect these traditions, just with more sensible menus.