Not once, but twice last week, I found myself in a conversation that centered around the art of lingering.
The first was a conversation with a food writer friend, that shared with me her experience of interviewing a man that told her about how he laid the foundation, with his children, to linger at the table after dinner. This intentional act laid the ground work for intimate conversations, laughter and growth that ultimately led to an idea for starting a family business.
Over this past weekend, I visited my parents. We filled ourselves with family time, shed hunting, shopping and good food. Over one of our meals, I found myself in a similar conversation with my dad about taking the time to linger, to slow down. He told me that he had read somewhere recently how the quality of relationships between mothers and daughters fell into decline with the invention of the dishwasher. Their time in the kitchen became less to do with the casual, intimate conversations that took place as they cleaned, and more to do with efficiency and moving on to the next task.
My own childhood was effected with the addition of a dishwasher to our household. Up until that point, my job each evening was to help my mom clear the table and then dry dishes while she washed. As we went about our tasks this became a time to share, to discuss our days and other topics that came to mind. The conveinence of the dishwasher changed everything. The whole process moved much quicker, leaving little time for visiting. After a couple years, our dishwasher met its demise. For whatever reason, my parents chose not to replace it. The absence of the dishwasher brought the return of our evening ritual. As my brother got older, I shifted to washing, he took up the drying. Those evenings of what once felt like a chore, are now some of the most treasured and vivid memories of my childhood. Meaningful conversations, sharing the triviality of our days…along with a few really good soap sud fights.
While I know that we won’t be giving up our dishwasher anytime soon, for us, these moments are still found in the kitchen, but more in the preparation of the meal, versus the cleanup. It is where I spend much of my time photographing, recipe testing, creating our meals, nourishing body and soul. My children are easily drawn in, and ask what they might do to help. As the meal preparation unfolds, so do our conversations, with the same ease and rhythm of a chopping knife. It’s one of the best arguments I can think of for cooking at home…conversation, learning how to prepare food, togetherness, a well laid foundation.