September 26th, 2003


Dinner Courtesy

My tandem bike friend made me dinner on wednesday night, before we went to skating together. It was a wonderful meal, complete with a homemade pesto made from basil grown in his own garden! It put to shame my "break and bake" cookies I'd brought for desert, although they were still tasty too.

I was sitting at the table, and he was dishing out generous amounts of food. I admired the feast in front of me but did not touch it. "Don't wait for me," he said, as he stepped into the kitchen.

"But I have to," I responded. "I've been trained."

When I was a child, my mom (an excellent cook) made dinner for the family almost every night. The rule was that nobody was allowed to start eating until the cook had sat down. As an adult, this makes a lot of sense to me. It's a sign of respect for her hard work, and it only is fair that she should be able to enjoy the product of her efforts at the same time as her family.

As a kid though, this rule seemed like torture. Steaming and delicious-smelling food would be sitting on my plate, looking wonderful and enticing. My mother would seem to take forever as she served everyone, put pots and remaining food back in the kitchen, poured milk, and whatever other interminable little tasks she would take care of before sitting down.

While waiting for her, my siblings and I would get ready. We would pick up our forks, arrange the food, and select the most tasty-looking bite. I remember holding my laden fork close to my mouth, sometimes even opening my mouth with that first bite half-inside. This was, apparently, allowed. Perhaps my mother even appreciated her children's silliness, and our eagerness to enjoy her cooking. But I knew, we all knew: nothing could actually be eaten until she was seated. So I would sit there, fork raised, mouth open, waiting. Finally she would take her place at the table. The instant her bottom made contact with her chair, I would close my mouth over that first bite of food, and dinner would begin.