The picture is a view of Lake Austin from the terrace at Mozart’s, a popular breakfast spot here in Austin, Texas. My daughter and I dined there one recent Sunday morning. Family schedules were such that she and I were paired off while Mom ran her brother somewhere else. So, she asked if we could go to Mozart’s on the lake.
It’s our spot. We go there to talk, check in with each other as Dad and daughter. It’s become an important ritual for both of us as her teen years progress. Good coffee and cinnamon rolls smothered in frosting don’t hurt either (arteries and other such issues aside). Because it is a ritual based on food, no agenda is necessary to call this meeting.
Food rituals. We have them everywhere in life. Most of you have probably attend rubber chicken dinners with speakers congratulating themselves for something. Weddings feature food and many funerals do as well. Wolfgang Puck traditionally makes a sumptuous meal for the Oscars ceremony and the Internet groans with indigestion over all the nacho recipes offered for the Super Bowl.
Food rituals are everywhere in society because they are one of the ways we build society in the first place. Food rituals help build families as well. We have many in our family and most of them grew organically rather than planned in some recipe of life.
Long before Meatless Mondays became popular, this house practiced Tuesday Tacos. To tell the total truth, we usually construct our tacos with tofu, but when this tradition first transpired Tuesday Tofu Tacos was too big a tongue twister for tots to tell.
Another, less alliterative, ritual involves my favorite aromatic. When I cook, I generally use enough garlic to wipe all mentions of the “Twilight” series from the Internet. So, smashing garlic is an important job around this house. It is now part of dinner prep and its family fun is memorialized in this post on my food blog.
My son is the Salad King. He came up with a Caesar salad recipe when he was about six years old (involving pepper and grated parmesan) to impress his grandparents and that’s the way we eat salad to this day.
Speaking of my son, we have our own version of the coffee on the lake ritual. It’s a combination dinner, TV watching, father-son check in and guy hangout. My wife coaches my daughter’s swim team and they practice on Sunday nights. So, my son and I are left to fend for ourselves. Once again, no agenda is necessary and whether it’s a football game, “The Simpson’s” or something else, the TV screen provides cues for short discussions of topics ranging from the weighty to the “when I was your age” reminiscences of the old man on the mountain. We both play a role in getting this little dinner on the table and we have a companion ritual of scrambling during timeouts and commercials to clean up the kitchen before the wife gets home.
We have more family food rituals. We play word games around the dinner table. We have another little game where we pull information out of them about the school day and everyone is in on the joke. But, hopefully you get the point. Establish your own food rituals. It’s a way of building the profound and important parts of life into the mundane necessities.