the importance of breaking bread
Note: I started drafting this blog post a week ago and never did I imagine I would be finishing it one day after the sudden and shocking death of Anthony Bourdain. If there is one celebrity chef and food influencer out there who I admired and was inspired by, it was him. So it's only fitting that I posted this blog today - all on how I have celebrated with friends and family over food and dining - in memory of a great human who never criticized other cultures, but celebrated them. He brought us along on his journey from his days as a gritty dishwasher to a celebrated and gifted author, personality, storyteller and writer. He took us on his journey around the world, exploring cultures, cuisine and human conditions and left this earth far too soon.
I have been throwing or attending dinner parties for as long as I can remember.
I grew up in a household where that was just the norm. My parents still are very social people who always enjoy being surrounded by good people....and good, homemade food. There isn't a month that goes by where my mom isn't planning a dinner party.
You are the company you keep has always been alive and well in our household.
Statistically, mealtime is becoming smaller and smaller for most households. Between busy schedules - and in some cases - both parents working full time jobs, kids sports & activities and people eating out, sitting down to a home cooked meal as a family, has become less and less of a priority.
Why is that?
I remember when I was a kid, that if I wasn't home for dinner on time, I would get an earful from my mother. It was EXPECTED that we sit down every night for dinner as a family. And on Sunday's, we always had a big dinner like a roasted chicken, turkey or roast beef with all the fixins. It was a time when we would reconvene, talk about our day and have conversations about what was on our mind. We couldn't get up without asking to be excused either. Those were the rules and that was our norm.
When I was in junior high/high school I was friends with a girl who was one of 3 children. Her parents were clearly not happy and if you asked me, they were probably separated but living under the same roof. I later found out this was due to financial reasons. But every night, her mom would make dinner for the family. And every night, the kids and her parents would plate up their meal and all head back to their own bedrooms to watch TV and eat. This was not only foreign to me but not normal. I couldn't understand it at that time because I didn't understand their family dynamic or situation.
Now as a parent, more than ever, I want to use that as an example and provide my son with the most healthy of households, and that includes the tradition of breaking bread, eating dinner as a family and respecting the tradition and the culture of the different foods we eat. He even helps me out in the kitchen at the ripe age of 18 months old. He loves to observe and enjoys watching the process and it just melts my heart.
As a young adult and now as a 41 year old, having dinner parties, communing over conversation, food, wine and laughter is such a thrill for me. I have surrounded myself with amazing friends who share this sentiment. We would have themed dinner parties, potlucks, Sunday dinner parties, supper clubs, fancy Parisian dinner parties that were intimate and sometimes we'd get together just to indulge in a charcuterie platter and bubbly as an excuse to catch up, commiserate, or download the week we had. But mostly, for the company.
We never needed an excuse to get together and cook a meal, it was effortless for us and it was really all about celebrating and enjoying the company of others while indulging in delicious fare. Food has always been a key part of my life and I have found comfort and joy in the simple preparation of food, serving my guests and indulging in the food that I have prepared. I love the process of making something, trying out new recipes and experimenting. I have more cookbooks that could sink a battle ship and when I read about a restaurant on TV or in an article, I diligently add it to my list of places to visit. Food is just an integral part of my life that I try and celebrate each and every day.
What saddens me is how there is this slow demise around the tradition of breaking bread. Especially for parents, because that should give people more reason to sit down as a family, reconnect and truly be present. Not just for ourselves, but for our children. Lead by example.
We all have a certain level of distraction we're guilty of - technology, our jobs, or other priorities & commitments - and we slowly find that we are shoving to the side the really important moments and limited time we get with our family, friends and children. My parents raised my brother and I in a house where this was imperative, even with their demanding schedules, there was always the effort. The determination and commitment to make it a part of our normal day-to-day, never taking for granted the time we had together as a young family.
This past year I have had 2 people whom I knew personally, pass away far too soon. Unexpectedly and leaving behind families, and young children and it's often these tragedies that remind us how precious and short life can be. So why not participate in the simple, enjoyable and easy things like sitting down to a nice meal with people we love?