Muto on gratitude

“To be a taker of food or any other commodity without appreciation diminishes our humanity. The height of selfishness corresponds to the avaricious depths of assuming that we are the reason the giver exits. Mother’s table is for me; all the thanks she needs is for me to eat my fill of what is on…

Memory in the kitchen

In the most recent issue of the wonderful Bread Wine & Thou is a beautifully written piece by Melbourne writer Ramona Barry. In it she recounts her journey with cancer and its impact upon her family’s life at the table.  It is an extraordinarily moving piece, and there is really nothing to do but go…

Van Gogh’s table

“The Van Gogh family ate where they lived, in the back room of the parsonage. Like everything in Anna’s life, food was subject to conventions. Modest and regular eating was considered crucial to both good health and moral wholeness. But with two cooks in the tiny kitchen, Anna could indulge her middle-class aspirations to larger,…

What shall we have for dinner?

What shall we have for dinner? What do you want for dinner? This is an anguished cry and often heard in suburban and even urban households whatever the makeup, gender and partnership. I have a habit of wailing: I don’t mind buying it, and cooking it, just tell me what you want to eat! I’ll…

Halligan on Food, Family and Melancholy

It is Christmas in Newcastle and the family home is full of family. We moved the big dining table into the garden, under the shade of the pohutukawas that I had given my parents for Christmas the year I was eighteen; a tree their size is a rare thing in this wind-scoured seaside suburb. I…

dinner time at your place

A while back I clipped an article from a newspaper. The reporter had asked a group of young people to describe dinner time at their house. Here’s what they said: ‘I eat dinner with my mum, my dad and my dog, We don’t talk a lot, ’cause we’re too busy watching catch-up TV that we recorded earlier in…

Sex in the Kitchen

Sex in the kitchen is not what it used to be. For men of my father’s generation, the kitchen stove was a woman’s place and home cooking an almost entirely feminine task. Men did other things. Granted, the kitchen sink was sometimes less gendered territory, but the distance between the tasks of cooking and washing…

Eating with kids

If ever I talk of eating as a spiritual experience, I am inevitably eyed with weary disbelief by parents of young children: ‘Honestly?’ they say, without the need for words, ‘You’ve clearly never been to my house!’ A few years back I came across an essay by Joey Horstman. He makes the same point, though with much…

Nouwen on the table

‘Although the table is a place for intimacy, we all know how easily it can become a place of distance, hostility, and even hatred.  Precisely because the table is meant to be an intimate place, it easily becomes the place we experience the absence of intimacy.  The table reveals the tensions among us.  When husband…

Gopnik’s ‘The Table Comes First’

The table comes first, before the meal and even before the kitchen where it’s made. It precedes everything in remaining the one plausible hearth of family life, the raft to ride down the river of our exitence, even in the hardest times. The table also comes first in the sense that its drama–the people who…

Kitchen Table Memoirs

I’m not long back from a few days in Christchurch, New Zealand, with the wonderful communities that make up the church formally known as Spreydon, now Southwest. More of that later. On the way home I passed the transit hours (always too many) reading Nick Richardson’s Kitchen Table Memoirs: Shared Stories from Australian Writers. It’s a…

Dinner time

As after-dinner conversations go, this one was not my best.  One of my offspring wanted to address aspects of our family life that were a cause of discontent.  High on the list —the long list — was our practice of family meals: “Why can’t we be normal?” Apparently, ‘normal’ is the practice of allowing each…