Localicious: Food That Bonds The Family Together – Bringing Back Dinner Table Discussion

Sitting down to a home-cooked meal prepared by Mom sounds more fantasy than reality these days. Imagine the ham just out of the oven and the potatoes seasoned to perfection, biscuits made from scratch and pie cooling for dessert. Everyone is asking about one another’s day and listening intently. No one is rushing off to soccer practice or glancing down at their cell phones. The kids don’t even ask about “screen time”.

While this imagery may sound naïve, sitting down to eat “family style” is not. Living in an ever-moving, ever-changing world may cause family life to feel rushed or lacking in quality moments. There are lots of ways to create family moments and meals without adding any stress. Meaningful conversations paired with healthy dinners are not a thing of the past. As a matter of fact, they’re having a comeback.

Audrey Pascone, of Red Gate Ranch, lives a sustainable life with her family in Tehama County. She remembers, “One of our favorite Thanksgiving meals was a ‘nourishing menu’ that we created with all of our family members and guests prior to a potluck-style gathering a few years ago after we moved to Red Gate Ranch. We decided to challenge ourselves to build an entire feast that was within these guidelines so everyone could savor the meal. We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if our holiday meals didn’t have to involve complete abandonment of our preferred healthy eating habits?’ It was a memorable and downright divine meal which was followed by a traditional evening walk with the entire family out to the ‘old oak tree.’ This walk, often filled with a joyful mix of lively conversation and peaceful silences, now marks the completion of our Thanksgiving meal. It gives us a chance to enjoy each other’s company outside of the kitchen, gets us out to move our bodies a bit, and always reminds us to spend a little time giving thanks to the beautiful pastures and trees that nourish us and our livestock.”

So, what is it that creates a memory to last a lifetime? Perhaps it’s the expensive platters and special silver that only come out twice a year. Or the dreaded gravy conflict; smooth or lumpy. That may be part of it, but the best memories come from simplicity and being present with the ones you love.

Nicole Kringle, of Kringle Acres in Orland, shares, “In the midst of our farmhouse remodel, we had many nights eating outside, practically tossing food on the table as we had no working kitchen to speak of. In the midst of chaos and practicing patience, we bonded. I love the conversations we had together with our three kids. Something about being outside, away from our typical dinner style. Simple, not fancy at all, but meaningful.” 

   Making time to share a meal is not only important but necessary to bonding together. Whether it be traditional or a simple night in the backyard, those memories will last. That’s the new tradition; making lasting memories.

Lola Lodigiani, of Tri-L Mandarins, mixes harvest in with tradition by including mandarins at the dinner table. “We make a traditional turkey dinner using our mandarins as a sweet side. We traditionally juice fruit as it’s the start of our mandarin season.”

Every year the Lodigiani family hosts a harvest festival to celebrate. Families are welcome to come free of charge to experience games, holiday shopping, fresh produce and educational booths about farm life. Find the details for this year’s Harvest Festival, December 2 and 3, at http://www.mandarins4you.com.

Dinner doesn’t have to look glamorous to create a real conversation. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A small bouquet of assorted flowers from the garden paired with miss-matched plates can bring just as much eloquence as fine china. The purpose of eating as a family is more about who’s at the table and less about what’s at the table. Try leaving the fancy dinnerware for another time. Explore new ways to set the table and encourage the kids to get involved.

Localicious is a monthly column celebrating food in the North State. If you would like to suggest a food-related business or organization, email us at localicious@northstateparent.com.

Mandi Metzger
About Mandi Metzger

Mandi Metzger and her family enjoy sharing their “Sweetest Lemonade” perspective with others through real food recipes. When Mandi isn’t writing a new recipe, she can be found riding bikes or hiking with her three kids, ages 9, 5 and 2. Find more recipes at www.sweetestlemonade.com.

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