I awoke at four this Sunday morning with a distinct and potent urge to cook a Sunday dinner. You remember those, right? The ones where the table is spread with the same things Grandma used to make, and ones that Mom has perfected. You know it; the ones where the whole fam damily meets at one person or anotherís house, the men gather in the livingroom or head to the garage to swap mechanic horror stories and tell fish tales, while the women amass in the kitchen to share the family grapevine news, trade menopause symptoms, recipes, plan the next baby to be born, and go over how many loads of laundry they did all week and what they packed in the lunch boxes. The smells of what will be devoured soon filters a fine feeling down into our bones. And when the dinner bell rings, they all come to fill their plates and souls, with the family tradition of Sunday dinner.
I donít know what became of Sunday dinner. Life, I suppose. We spend all week traveling to and from work, trying to deal with each dayís issues and fall into comas at night. No small wonder that when the weekend finally does get here, the last thing we want to do is trek on out again.
I used to have Sunday dinners, when all the kids came home from wherever and I felt the warm rush only a mother can feel. Iíd say itís somewhere between the blast of hot air you get in your face when you open a four hundred degree oven, and the smell of sheets dried on the clothesline outside all day when your tired body finally hits the sack at night. Thereís nowhere and nothing else you can get it from, except at Sunday dinner. Some things come close, but never quite make the grade in my opinion.
Time was, when I cooked, I made enough for at least twelve people. Now, Iíd have to open my own soup kitchen to get rid of it all. The other night, I made my own famous chicken, chili, cheese enchiladas. Itís a huge process, and when you make them, you make a lot of them because itís just too much trouble to go to for a few. I even made my own tortilla chips, refried beans and Mexican rice. Now I have it all sitting in the fridge, waiting for some poor hungry soul to come by and gobble away. Food just doesnít taste as good when there are only two. Iím actually a good cook; but I stay away from the pie territory. Thatís my sister and Momís avenue, and since mine are more suitable for bricklaying, I never travel that road. Besides, dentists are mighty expensive these days; so is flour when youíre tossing it out by the five pound bags. To slave over a stove and sink all day is a labor of love. The boiling and steaming and pinching spices, the stirring and stewing, the mingling of chopping sounds and laughter; there is nothing like it. Even the smell of dish soap can be a tonic when the day is over, bellies well fed and everyone finds a spot to nap in until dessert time.
Cooking, is an art form you know. The sad thing about it is, the creation process can take all day, but the eyes soak it all in for only a short while before it is ingested and gone. What starts out as big platters of golden fried chicken, homemade noodles rich in broth, bowls of steaming mashed potatoes laced with sour cream and chives, broccoli spears steamed to the perfect green and a huge tossed salad that looks like a garden in a bowl, swiftly and most assuredly, becomes piles of bones, and plate scrapings. Maybe I should have saved one of those pies after all; I could have hung it from the livingroom wall as art.
All too soon, it is time to say goodnight, and the house goes silent again with the exception of the dogs, who are still scouring the floors for anything dropped. Thatís when tired feels good.
I suppose Iíll put the call out, and see who can come. Run to get myself dolled up, wrap a good apron around me, and commence to cooking. I need Sunday dinner. We all do, we just got out of the habit. So, if youíre inclined, come on over. I want my house filled today with all the food, and love and family and friends Sundays used to have. You donít need to bring anything, just an appetite and maybe a funny story to share. You can pitch in and peel potatoes if you want, or just watch and talk me through it. You can bring your troubles, and Iíll try to help; two heads are better than one. And while youíre here, you can check out my latest pie art.
Dinnerís at three, but come anytime, Sunday dinner lasts all day.