Haven’t we all read about the timeless joys and emotional gratification of the family dinner? Whatever else you do, the experts repeat, make sure that your entire family sits down together several nights a week to eat, discuss their day and share their world with you.Maybe it was easy for the Brady Bunch. It has never been easy for me. I don’t really want boxed macaroni and cheese at 5:30 p.m.
I’m not only supposed to sit down and have a meaningful conversation, I’m supposed to cook one meal that we all can, or will, eat. I am scouring cookbooks for ideas, but so far my children’s choices still exclude most meat, all vegetables, salad, rice and the majority of potato recipes. I’ve learned to make burritos five ways.
Sometimes it all happens. Four place settings, one entrée, everyone at the table. We have conversation and debates, all right. We debate whether or not they were truly chewing with their mouths open and what exactly constitutes having your elbows on the table.
This week, I asked my husband to pass the blue cheese dressing. My son immediately demanded to know what the heck blue cheese was. My husband explained it was cheese filled with veins of blue mold.
“Daaad!” my daughter howled. “That’s not funny! That’s gross.” My son followed closely with “Oh sure, Dad. What is it really?”
My husband responded calmly that he was not kidding, that many cheeses get their flavor from various molds allowed to grow on or in them. My daughter, with the weak stomach, began loud requests for him to stop talking about stuff like that. She was getting ill.
My son pressed for details, wanting to know exactly what a mold is, where it comes from and why isn’t it poison?
Doesn’t bread get moldy and don’t we throw it away when it’s all blue and hairy, he asked. This led to further discussion of good molds, bad molds and penicillin, and louder shrieks from my daughter for them to stop.
As my husband tried delicately to finish his scientific explanation, I gave up on the possibility of pointing out that my son should stop eating his mashed potatoes with his fingers.
Life was so much simper when we dined each night with the Flintstones. Even Fred never chewed with his mouth open, and everybody loved brontosaurus burgers.