I am currently reading a book series by Martin Walker. They tell the story of Bruno Courrèges , the chief of police in the Périgord area of France. He loves his village of St. Denis, his adopted hometown. Here he finds the love and support he didn’t have as an orphaned boy. One of his great loves is cooking and dining well. He is gourmand and I sadly am a daughter of American cuisine. My palate would be challenged by some of his meals. However, the food doesn’t need to be fancy to be shared.
Dining with friends is a central theme throughout the series. Bruno is known for his cooking in addition to his astute police work. Laughter, sadness, love, hopes and dreams are shared between friends and family around the dinner table. Farewells are said to friends lost through death. Now I realize this is a book and not real life, but I do know the importance sitting together with your family for one meal a day . It plays a vital role in our lives. It is the one chance each day we have the opportunity to focus on those most important to us. Dinner time is when a child might express concern or joy about something inparticular. It is when parents teach their children through discussion the importance of staying connected with what is going on in the world. It is clearly the time parents can share their values through simple conversation.
Dining with friends widens our network of support. We are reminded we don’t face life’s hardships alone and we don’t celebrate the goodness of life alone either. At the dinner table we learn to give thanks for the simple things in life and the importance having a strong network of friends can be. Americans though have a difficult time sitting down and dining. Dinner is often rushed take out. Everyone grabs their order then scrambles off to their private space in the house. I know time is limited and the author is very clever because he writes about Bruno doing preperations prior to his day beginning. It does take practice but if everyone shared the responsiblity (at the the husband and wife) then it wouldn’t seem like such a burden.
Americans don’t entertain friends much anymore either, at least most of my former friends didn’t. When I or the one other friend who entertained would invite people to share dinner in our homes, you would think we had given them an expensive and irreplacable gift. I agree the gift of friendship is irreplacable but sharing dinner doesn’t have to be. If you can’t afford to serve dinner to a group of friends, host a potluck. Or maybe host a dessert party, a make your own pizza party or an after dinner drinks party. The object is to come together for a time and shut out the rest of the world. Bruno, time and time again, finds the support and encouragement he needs around the dinner table.
I live alone and have allowed this to be my excuse for not cooking. Why cook for one? It is so much work if I am the only one who will be eating. Sadly I am teaching myself I am not worth the effort to make good food. A goal I have as I move on from this place, is to bring back the art of dining, even if it is only dining for one.