So What Exactly Is a Family Meal?

Daylight savings time and the extra hour of sun turned this past Sunday into a surreal, extended version of a typical day off. Not only were we left with a full 60 minutes more of sunlight than usual, but the temperature here in Los Angeles pushed 90 degrees. At every point in the day, everything seemed a bit off, but somehow better, as there was more sunlight, a balmy heat, the subtext of another 60 minutes in the pocket just in case.

In that spirit, with the kids playing, and the wife out, I tracked down the video of a song I’d heard on the radio a few weeks back. As it came on the computer, the kids walked up and, lucky for me, the video was done in a sort of “Dick and Jane” naive riff on the video format. The song was “Young Folks,” by Peter Bjorn and John, a Swedish band. The song has a sort of a catchy but melancholic, whistled hook. And the kids were hooked, too.

Fast forward 7 hours to sunset. We made a drink out of farmer’s market ingredients: fresh mint and quartered mexican limes muddled in a glass, soda water, and tonic, on ice. A shot of gin on top for the grownups.

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I fired up the grill. We had TJ’s chicken sausages, broccolini steamed in the pan then browned on the grill, plus grill-toasted baguette. As it cooked I put it in a stainless bowl and threw a lid on top. Bowl in a Dinner, I told five year old Vi. She loved it and took it to the table.
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We feasted. As we cleared our plates, Vi started whistling the hook to Young Folks. She and Desmond asked to hear/watch it. We said: just once. And played it for them. They both said: again. We played it again. And then it was off to baths and the end of the longest day since last summer.

And that was our Sunday Family meal.

We didn’t plan it that way. We’ve never had one quite like that and might not again. It happens in a multitude of ways. It will happen a multitude of ways yet again. How does it happen for you?
—Hugh

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2 Responses to So What Exactly Is a Family Meal?

  1. L-A says:

    Yesterday was our first attempt at inviting guests for a small bbq. The two two-year-olds in attendance hovered over a bowl of TJ’s tortilla chips, taking one bite out of each chip, then putting them back in the bowl. As for the guacamole my husband made, they preferred to use their fingers for dipping and double-dipping. Needless to say, no one else was inclined to enjoy this appetizer. There were veggie dogs and burgers and turkey dogs. Again, the toddlers got unconventional and gnawed on the dogs, sans buns or condiments (they kinda looked ferocious). They left the grilled asparagus and veggie kabobs (red bell peppers, mushrooms, pineapple and teriyaki marinade) to the adults. My husband pulled a rabbit out of a hat and tossed some cored/peeled apples, brown sugar and cinnamon into tin foil and onto the grill. We topped the finished product off with some vanilla ice cream and the kids were finally ready to sit like civilized folk, spoon in hand. Top that off with some Fat Weasel (for the adults, of course), Knudsen’s root beers, “Jazz for Kids” and Beck alternating in the boombox and an ongoing game of catch, and that’s how we “sprung forward.” It was really special for us, too; our daughter used to go to bed a little too early for us to host this kind of thing, but the extra hour was exactly what we needed.
    As for PB&J, my daughter caught wind of that phenomenon last fall and it’s been one of her favorite songs ever since. She does her best to whistle and snap her fingers whenever she hears it (alas, that’s so often it now drives me mental).

  2. Deborah Dowd says:

    Sunday is usually a lazy day for us and this one was particularly so since we had driven six hours round trip to visit our second eldest in Maryland the day before. We couldn’t decide what to have so we had a pork tenderloin, saffron rice and fresh broccoli. It was quick and easy, but still substantial enough for a Sunday dinner.

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