Buon Appetito!

June 6, 2024
by Anna Catherine

It is interesting how much I truly believe in the value of family dinners. Though it seems very much to my advantage to preach this daily ritual to a group of customers whom I implore to purchase frozen meals from me, dinner around the table is something I can never get enough of, and recently, I attended a family dinner that I will certainly never forget.  

I’m in that stage of life where you pick up the living room three times a day, feed littles nonstop, and drive to and from practice as often as possible, so world travel will have to come a little later. And, while my mom, Elizabeth, did her time at home with the five of us, she’s an empty nester now, and it was time to go! She skirted off to Italy (you can read all about it here), and when she arrived back in good ole Tennessee, she knew she had a piece of Europe to share with us all. When she arrived stateside, she called me to let me know she would be cooking an authentic Italian meal for all of us. Not only had she studied the food while she was abroad, but she had also taken the time to ship some needed spices, oils, and ingredients back here. 

It is supremely difficult to get on the calendar of five grown children, but a few Sundays back, she managed to put out a line that snagged us all. Some of her family was already in town, so per usual, our dinner party guest list soared to over 20. Every meal she serves is made with love, but she poured her heart into this one while still having it ready at precisely the time she told us she would (if you’ve been there, you know). While it is no surprise that Elizabeth wanted to cook for the entire family, you should be surprised that Wes, the elusive counterpart to The Mama, was equally excited to serve each of us.  

Though they could never mask the down-to-earth, casual atmosphere of the screened-in porch they extended to accommodate their growing family, fine linens and sleek wine glasses adorned the table (facts: she only had enough stemware for half of us, and after years of forks going missing, Wes purchased an extensive collection of cheap forks from Walmart, but feigned elegance can be just as fun!). While Dean Martin played softly in the background and the sound of laughter and summer nights floated around the room, Elizabeth and Wes, clad in matching aprons and hats, served five courses to their guests. It could only be described as both altogether brand new and perfectly nostalgic. As the clock ticked peacefully by, we spent over three hours slowly pacing through breads, cheeses, wines, meats, and pastas. I don’t think anyone can fully comprehend what it is like to have a meal at such a pace until you have tried it; it was wonderfully enjoyable. Sit down with friends or family and spend three hours dining- I promise you won’t be met with regret. What my parents did for our family that day was not only an act of love; it was an experience that we will talk about for years to come. It is something that can rival any travel, for the history and vistas of the world seldom fill up my heart like a glass of wine with my grandfather, a giggle with my daughter, or a story told for the thousandth time, all of which take place so subtly around the table, but remain so boldly in my mind.  

While the dining ensued, one of my daughters put together a short video of the night to gift my parents as a thank you. While this raw, amateur creation was not meant for this platform, I would be remiss if I did not share this beautiful little snippet with you!