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We all have our favorite parts in books. They stick with us long after the last page has been read. For me, many of the most memorable scenes have to do with dinner.
When I read passages of people sitting down for a meal, I feel as though I have received a mental snack. If the right words are chosen, my stomach starts growling and the descriptions satisfy my taste buds.
“Like Water for Chocolate,” for instance, offers such detailed recipes and cooking instructions that I find it dangerous to read on an empty stomach. I am always tempted to make the sausages and rolls that are described in the first chapter, but I worry I won’t successfully transfer the literary meal into real life.
Another tasty treat that has stuck with me is in “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.” The mother is a genius when it comes to making a week’s worth of meals out of one loaf of bread. She would roll some of it into balls and mix in crushed hard candy, then mash another portion of it into a soup. I read that book when I was a kid and I still wonder how hard candy bread balls tastes.
It’s more than just the food. A lot of action can take place at the dinner table. In “Sarah, Plain and Tall,” the narrator and her brother learn at the dinner table that in order to help heal the family after the death of their mother, “Papa” had advertised for a wife.
In “Choke” the main character, Victor, manipulates people into discovering their heroic capabilities by pretending to choke on his dinner at restaurants.
Even Shakespeare used dinner as the setting for his climax in “Titus Andronicus.” Titus exacts revenge for his daughter’s rape and disfigurement by cooking up her rapists in a meat pie and serving it to their mother for dinner.
Dinner has always been significant in my family, too. We have spilled a lot of tears, and had a lot of laughs, cheers and memories at the dinner table. My sister and I played with balloons our mother tied to the back of chairs for birthdays and watched the flames on holiday candles dribble wax during Christmas festivities.
It was during a Thanksgiving dinner that I first met my future brother-in-law and it was at another dinner when my sister and I were invited to travel overseas with our grandparents.
Even though my family has disbursed, family dinners are still a highlight for me.
At least twice a week, I go over to my parents’ house to share the last meal of the day with them. It’s more than just a chance to snatch up free food; it’s a chance to continue the memories.