Rose Hayden-Smith • thevictorygrower.com

family

Family + Food: Parents Visit College

Family + food: parents visit college. Like many families, ours has a particular food culture that defines it. Food anchors us, and connects us to one another. We use mealtimes as times to have important conversations (about what we’re eating and about life), to laugh, and to simply enjoy one another.

It is Parents Weekend at our daughter’s college, Willamette University. (Shout out to a superb college: another blog posting). It’s been a wonderful, joyous, interesting – and at times, puzzling – three days. We’ve (re)connected with her on a new footing. She has changed a great deal in eight weeks, and we are meeting her as an equal who has been living rather independently from us.

She is showing us her new community this weekend, we are meeting her friends, and getting a glimpse of the experiences and life she is creating for herself. It is a bit like standing on the deck of a rolling ship – in the best possible of ways – when the safe harbor and shore are behind you, and the horizon ahead is infinite and limitless. You are no longer the captain: that role has now been given over to your young adult, to the next generation, and you can only try to keep your footing and remain relevant in some way. (In our case, working the galley: food provisioning).

The first afternoon, we celebrated our reunion and tested new waters. We became reacquainted. Our daughter drove us through the gorgeous Willamette Valley to enjoy an afternoon snack at the Willamette Pie Company. We saved room for a patio dinner with our daughter and her roommate at Adam’s Rib in Salem. Another dinner was reserved for a new favorite, La […]

Kitchen Table Memories

A few years ago, a friend asked several of us to jot down memories about the kitchen tables in our lives. The operating premise of the exercise was that food is central to our relationships, and that much of life occurs around the places where we eat, and those we choose to eat with.

My kitchen table memories are varied. My family moved quite frequently when I was young: our kitchen table was a sort of “movable feast.” In my faith tradition, this term has a very specific meaning that informs my attitudes toward food. (For the very literary minded, it is also the title of a wonderful memoir written by Ernest Hemingway late in his life).

I have wonderful memories about kitchen tables. In our home near Philadelphia, I remember my older sister sitting at the table in the spacious kitchen, trying to cajole me to eat more before we went to church. I was served the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten at that very table. It was at this table where my brother once committed the serious transgression of launching scrambled eggs at my sister, using his fork as the springboard. (This happened exactly once.) A few years later, in the San Fernando Valley, close by some citrus orchards where the California State University campus now stands, I recall eating wonderful meals at our new home, which featured a formal dining room, where my parents proudly used the plastic fruit I’d bought them as a gift as the table’s centerpiece.

I remember my Grandmother Eloise’s elegantly appointed dining room table in Clinton, Mississippi, where we always drank heavily sugared iced tea from the tallest glasses I’d ever seen, being certain to clink the ice with […]