Our Daily Bread

What does it mean to break bread?

When I grew up, dinner time was something everyone gathered around the table for. There were no interruptions, no text messages, no cell phone calls. No one was allowed to answer the land line. I still remember the smell of my mother’s banana bread baking in the oven and I can taste her spaghetti sauce cooking on the stove. The dinner table was where we all wanted to be.

When we visited my grandmother’s house in the summer, our time was spent around preparing and eating meals. Food we couldn’t get at home. Recipes handed down for a least a generation or more.

This handwritten recipe in my Grandmother’s handwriting is one of my prized possessions. it’s the only thing I have of hers to show her penmanship. She was born in 1904 and back then handwriting was an art. In the days of being a child, I remember her handwritten letters to me, but I was not astute enough to remember to save them. How I wish I had them now! It is definitely a lost art and an ode to times gone by.

I remember, one summer, I had gone to visit my grandmother and she disappeared in the middle of the day. I looked for her everywhere and could not find her. About 30 minutes later, right when I am beginning to panic, she came walking in the back door with a big huge watermelon. She had been crawling underneath the house to retrieve it. That is where she kept her watermelons in the summertime to keep them cool. She was 86 years old at the time!

So even our favorite stories revolved around food.

Not to be outdone, I still remember every Christmas she would arrive with a coffee can full of her homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. Honestly, I loved those cookies more than life itself. Still do. I made her write down the recipe one time and I tried making them on my own. They were not the same. I did everything like she told me, but they still were not anywhere close to Mimi’s Oatmeal Raisin cookies.

When I left home I knew very little about cooking. My mother always bragged that her grandmother taught her how to cook and they used to spend hours in the kitchen doing just that. However, mother never taught me, so I barely knew how to boil an egg. Well, maybe I did know, but I had no idea how long I was supposed to boil it! This made making tunafish pretty difficult.

For my very first Thanksgiving, while living on my own, a girlfriend from back east taught me how to making homemade stuffing. In some ways, I still use her techniques today, although my recipe has certainly changed and improved over the years.

I definitely recall taking that stuffing out of the oven. It looked like something out of a magzine. It smelled delicious; buttery and smooth, my mouth was watering. Watering, that is, until I dropped the entire pan of stuffing upside down on the floor!

So many tall tales that surround our meals. So many discussions over a home cooked meal. These days, however, we don’t eat dinner as a family as much anymore and that is so sad. We have lost the art of sitting down to dinner, washing our hands and discussing our days.

There is a lot of dicussion these days about the food we eat and our overall health. Obesity is rampant in our country and 1 in 4 of us are overweight. These are relatively new statistics as my parents and grandparents never had weight issues.

It could be we need to get back to making our food ourselves. Yes, we need to eat more veggies, but what if we committed to prepare foods our grandparents ate? Not just meat and potatoes, but Grandma’s favorite banana bread for breakfast, cage free eggs, home baked breads, real butter. Let’s start having our milk delivered and pasterized at lower temperatures so that the essential digestive enzymes are left intact.

Let’s not only say grace before we eat, but lets put the grace back into the way we prepare and enjoy our meals. Let’s get our kids back in the kitchen and start giving them the tools not only to feed themselves, but the pleasure of our company and love. Maybe even give up one or two social activities a week so we can spend the time as a family, in the kitchen learning about the foods we love, and how it’s fun to make a meal. I mean, has your child ever smelled homemade bread cooking in the oven? They don’t know what they are missing!

Who knows, maybe we will inspire our kids to climb under the house to retrieve their watermelons! That way they won’t just be eating fresh fruits, they will be having to get outside and work for their food again. We are all hunters and gathers.

Food is to be shared and breaking bread should be an honorable and holy occassion. The fact the earth is covered in a 1 inch layer of topsoil means we can grow our own food, and that means as humans we can survive! Talk about manna from Heaven!

Let’s fuel our bodies and feed our minds at the same time. Let’s start breaking bread again where can we teach our children, in a safe and nonjudgmental environment not only how to take care of themselves, but our city, country and world. Let’s share our views on politics and religion in the safety of our own homes. Let’s have conversations at the dinner table that will prepare our children to go out into the world and stake a claim, improve society and the lives of others!

Let’s put down our phones, pick up a knife and fork. Let’s teach ourselves and our children that breaking bread is such a pleasure that it should not be wasted with emails and social media. It deserves our full attention.

Let’s get back to table manners and dinner etiquette. Let’s practice our conversations on family and share our hopes and dreams. Let’s put down our devices and start taking up forks and spoons and rediscovering what it means to enjoy the bounty of God’s green earth. Let’s make family dinner time something to look forward to. Let the magic begin!

See the effects of social media on the family dinnertime ritual here: http://theconversation.com/technoference-a-habit-parents-should-ditch-during-2019-107954

3 thoughts on “Our Daily Bread

  1. Enjoyed your reflections of your grandmother. I still fix some of my mother’s recipes. Don’t think I have any from Ma Shaw. My grandkids do love to cook. Planning for a big get-together today w/ them and all there Brazilian relatives.


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