My family was here in San Francisco for a week-long vacation and while we visited and saw the sights and took lots of pictures, mostly we just ate. A lot.
This is in part because of our involvement and interest in food, and in part because we were in the food-centric Bay Area, where an irresistible gustatory treat is just around every corner. But it is also because food is a powerful way to express our connection, love, and familial bonds.
What are your family food experiences?
At its best, family food is nurturance, culture, shared memories and experiences, and perhaps even a few genetic dispositions to like the taste of one thing and not another. But family, like everything, is a work in progress. People are added through marriage and children, subtracted through death and discord. People themselves change, discover new things, develop allergies and health issues, move across the world, grow older. All this is brought to the family kitchen and dining table where life's transitions are celebrated and traditions are established.
Food also helps to create family that is not necessarily connected through marriage or genes. Once again, breaking bread together, sharing the bounty of the harvest and each other's presence is a powerful bond for human beings.
It was a delight to share the amazing food of San Francisco with my family, especially my college-age nieces who are just discovering their own palates and unique food interests. Our on-going joke was that we kept discovering the Best Ever. Best Ever coffee? Blue Bottle. Best Ever fast food burger? In-n-Out. Restaurant Burger? Nopa. Chocolate croissant? Tartine. Best over-all meal? Greens at sunset.
It is my hope that the sense memories of these tastes and smells and textures will stay with them and continue to weave magic into their lives. I probably won't be able to leave my nieces much in the way of material things, but if I've managed to share even the smallest drop of pleasure, sustenance, inspiration and delight in food and cooking, then I know I've been a decent aunt and can rest in peace: the family traditions will continue, and we will all be fed.
(Image: Dana Velden)