Friday, January 7, 2011

Come to the table

I heard  a speaker today say that an average adult can only retain 10 to 12 memories from childhood that can easily be retrieved without the trigger of a photograph or other icon. 10 to 12.

If we take this statistic as fact, what memories are we creating for our children? Hopefully one of them will be 'family meals'. Opening up the latest (seriously, they come bi-weekly!) Williams Sonoma catalog last night, there was a quote on page 4  from Alan Tangren, the pastry chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. He said, "I treasure the memories of family meals when I was growing up, where I learned about sharing good food, the events of the day, and caring for people I loved." The copy on the facing page says, "sharing a home-cooked meal is a celebration of food, family, and friends... it's a gift of time together. Sharing, talking, eating. Time to relax, reconnect, and nourish. Come to the table." Come to the table. It almost sounds like a religious calling.

The photos that accompany this introduction (again, this is just a shopping catalog, but it's reading like the best parenting manual available!) focus on the Bryan and Michael Voltaggio , of Top Chef fame, and their families. Included are some of their recipes and their their "best of" items from Williams Sonoma. Tucked between these items to buy and pictures of the fraternal chefs, however, is a quote from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University:

"The dining table is where the majority of teens talk to their parents about  what's  going on in their lives."

If there is no eating together at the table, then you may be losing out on this vital link into your child's life. I think I may have heard all the excuses for not eating together, but none of them sound compelling when weighed against this statistic. The ideal would be for a young family to structure family meals early on and with firm ground rules (one being "not an option"). I know, I know... "We have soccer, tennis, tutor, dance, scouts, homework..." But I honestly feel this is about priorities. These activities may be all good, but what's in the best interest of your family? Tough questions and things to think about and, again, all this coming from a catalog...

The brothers Voltaggio have the last word:
Bryan: "Parents get to be heroes for their kids every day in the kitchen."
Michael: "Dust off the dinner table and bring your family together through food."

10 to 12 memories... This could be one of them that you can give your children, and that is a powerful gift!

Come to the table.


  1. I must be really lucky then , to be able to easily recall TONS of good childhood memories, but the wisdom you passed along here is priceless and is food for the family-soul! Wonderful piece, Bob!

  2. Thanks for reading and posting L! Happy New Year!

  3. This is my favorite post you've written so far! It made me so excited about starting our own family traditions with our new little guy and creating lifelong memories around the dinner table. Honestly, I almost cried...shocking, I know!!

  4. Thanks for posting, Tracey. That's what it's all about... starting your family traditions, not almost crying! Bob