The Family Meal
A couple months ago, it dawned on me how many meals I eat alone. Breakfast at my countertop. Lunch often at my work computer and dinner tends to be a mixed bag but often again back at my countertop. Its not just me either. One study I found shows, the average American eats one in every five meals in their car. Another found 59% of American families report eating fewer meals together now than when they were growing up.
Our lives are increasingly busy today world and tend to be less connected to those in our immediate geography and may instead be more defined by digital connections. I don't know about you but as I think about my final days, I'm left wondering what the chances are I'll find myself saying, "I wish I'd eaten more meals while staring at a computer or TV screen", or, "I know what I won't miss. Gathering around delicious food with family and friends." Since I know both of these statements are preposterous, the question became, "what am I going to do about that?"
As I began mulling what the change might look like, the most obvious question was, "what keeps me from cooking more often with friends?" Its a question of sourcing what is needed, making the time for prep, being comfortable cooking for a group and getting on people's schedules.
In terms of sourcing the right ingredients and finding greater comfort in cooking, there's only one thing to do, practice. But what exactly should? The world is full of an infinite number of recipes and preparation styles. It dawned on me that a couple years ago while reading Anthony Bourdain's book, Medium Raw, he outlined 10 things he felt everyone should know how to do. I still have the note.
With step 1 complete, I turned to the simple fact for me that while I enjoy cooking, my enjoyment of it increases dramatically when in the company of friends. As I get older, friends in relationships, those who are married and those with kids, make up an ever-growing slice of the pie. I reached out to a couple friends who like me, don't have default dining partners and asked them if they wanted to form a group. They agreed. Step 2 complete.
The plan is to meet once a month and work our way through this list. Once its done, we may start right over with it to enhance our training or move onto something new. I don't know where this idea will take me but as long its in the direction of delicious food while in good company, I don't really care.
Go Forth Boldly
"Basic cooking skills are a virtue... the ability to feed yourself and a few others with proficiency should be taught to every young man and woman as a fundamental skill. [It’s] as vital to growing up as learning to wipe one’s own ass, cross the street by oneself, or be trusted with money.” Anthony Bourdain