Sometimes, I get nostalgic about cooking. I learned how to cook by watching my parents and my older sister create their favorite recipes. My mother made dinner rolls from scratch, just about every Sunday. There was a process that began with the heating of the milk. Over the span of 45 minutes she would combine the separate ingredients of milk, yeast, sugar, eggs, oil and flour into enough dough to make 4 dozen rolls.
My sister had two favorite recipes. One was her mashed potatoes which are still the lightest and fluffiest I’ve ever had. The second was her signature barbeque sauce. My dad was a cook while he served in the Army. He could cook a variety of dishes, but my favorite was his salmon croquets. None of them used a recipe to create their dishes. They had prepared them so many times that they knew just the right amount of ingredients to combine.
However, that was before microwave ovens. That was also before the existence of numerous fast food franchises. Quick is the rule of the day. Cooking has become a lost art. Over the past few years, in an attempt to get back to home cooked meals, several companies like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh prepackage the ingredients for a delicious meal.
In all the ads I see for those companies, there is a clear focus on the ease of preparation. Open the box. Take out the ingredients. Follow the directions on the included recipe card,…..and voila, you have a wonderful meal. The commercial fades before anyone sits down to eat. Growing up, my family wasn’t as focused on creating the meal as we were on the conversation that happened as we shared it. The dinner table was the place where we talked about everything. My parents would share stories of work and the people who were in their department. My sisters and I talked about what happened at school and what homework we needed to complete.
On Sundays we’d talk about the church service, especially the sermon and how it would inspire us for the week to come. And sooner or later, my parents would ask us children about our plans for the future. We learned early that we were going to college, so we had to choose a career that required a college education. And most evenings, my parents would help us explore what we needed to do to achieve our career choices.
Does that still happen? Are our families so busy that we neglect a time to, not only prepare a meal, but also to spend time with one another? Our Lord and Savior showed us the importance of table fellowship. Feeding thousands fishes and loaves and the Last Supper are only two examples.
What are we missing because we don’t gather at the table anymore to share our dreams and celebrate the people in our lives? How are we failing to nurture the relationships we have with our nuclear and extended family when we rush to eat? Can sharing a meal affirm who we are, as well as whose we are? May we seek to create ways to meet over a meal, to begin, sustain, renew and deepen our relationships with one another and with our Lord.