Some reader e-mails on my post yesterday concerning Miriam Weinstein’s new book “The Surprising Power of Family Meals : How Eating Together Makes Us Smarter, Stronger, Healthier, and Happier.” It’s a pitch for bringing back the family dinner (or, as Weinstein calls it, the “family supper”), on the theory that the family who eats together stays together (see “Family Dining Values,” Aug. 30):
This from K.C.:
“Well, we eat dinner together every night, and usually breakfast, too….I know a lot of people who think we’re nuts and that it’s ‘too much trouble.’ I think it’s more trouble to run a diner and to have make meals at all hours.”
Yes, one of additional benefits of family dinner/supper is that kids learn there’s a difference between eating at a restaurant and eating at home. They should be obliged to eat at least a mouthful of everything served, even if it’s parsnips–which will help broaden their culinary tastes beyond chicken nuggets. If they won’t eat much of anything one night, they’ll be plenty hungry by the next night. As for that inevitable pool of teens who decide to turn vegetarian, just make sure there’s a big bowl of rice or pasta handy, and they won’t starve. Nice going, K.C.
And this from G.B., commenting on this reminiscence of mine:
“First, what’s with the ‘family supper’ monicker? When I was growing up in California, It was ‘family dinner,’ because, as my mother informed us children, only ‘Okies’ who put their feet up on the coffee table referred to the evening meal as ‘supper’–and they also called lunch ‘dinner.’ ‘Dinner’ (served at its proper hour) was for refined folks like us who used several forks, preceded each main course with a salad, and served a thimbleful of wine to the older children because diners of class always imbibed, although in moderation. ‘Supper,’ however, may be a regionalism–or a ruralism–that feels comfortable to Weinstein. After all, those ‘Okies’ my mother derided were no more than displaced farmers used to eating their biggest meal of the day at noon.’
Says G.B.: “They still do.”
Yes, and The Other Charlotte informs me that in the region that she’s from, the Mississippi Delta, they also still eat their big meal at noon and call “supper” the evening meal that transplanted New Yorkers like my parents call “dinner.” The reasons: Mississippians like to get the cook home before dark (these are very upper-crust Mississippians that Charlotte runs with!), and it’s so hot down there during the summer that it makes sense to do all the heavy cooking for the day in the morning when it’s still relatively cool. So where you’re from makes all the difference in what you call it. Still, my mother would be horrified.
And now for–not again!–Cindy Sheehan. A newspaper-editor friend assures me that Cindy will drop from sight after Labor Day (much to everyone’s relief), but, to comfort us during the last few seconds of Cindy’s 15 minutes of fame, reader Rod forwards us this link to a post by one “Mohammed” on the wonderful freedom-blog Iraq the Model:
“A message to Cindy Sheehan I realize how tragic your loss is and I know how much pain there is crushing your heart and I know the darkness that suddenly came to wrap your life and wipe away your dreams, and I do feel the heat of your tears that won’t dry until you find the answers to your question, why you lost your loved one?…
“Your face doesn’t look strange to me at all; I see it everyday on endless numbers of Iraqi women who were struck by losses like yours. Our fellow country men and women were buried alive, cut to pieces and thrown in acid pools and some were fed to the wild dogs while those who were lucky enough ran away to live like strangers and the Iraqi mother was left to grieve one son buried in an unfound grave and another one living far away who she might not get to see again. We did nothing to deserve all that suffering, well except for a dream we had; a dream of living like normal people do.
“We cried out of joy the day your son and his comrades freed us from the hands of the devil and we went to the streets not believing that the nightmare is over. We practiced our freedom first by kicking and burning the statues and portraits of the hateful idol who stole 35 years from the life of a nation. For the first time air smelled that beautiful, that was the smell of freedom. The mothers went to break the bars of cells looking for the ones they lost 5, 12 or 20 years ago and other women went to dig the land with their bare hand searching for a few bones they can hold in their arms after they couldn’t hold them when they belonged to a living person….
“We did not choose war for the sake of war itself and we didn’t sacrifice a million lives for fun! We could’ve accepted our jailor and kept living in our chains for the rest of our lives but it’s freedom ma’am….
“Your son sacrificed his life for a very noble cause. No, he sacrificed himself for the most precious value in this existence; that is freedom. His blood didn’t go in vain; your son and our brethren are drawing a great example of selflessness. God bless his free soul and God bless the souls of his comrades who are fighting evil. God bless the souls of Iraqis who suffered and died for the sake of freedom. God bless all the freedom lovers on earth.”
A moving must-read.