This article, originally published in Skirt Magazine, was written by my daughter Caki Diehl. She has been an inspiration!
Fall is my father’s favorite season, he can wear his sweaters, go to footballs games, and carve pumpkins. Thanksgiving is my mother’s favorite holiday of the year___no gifts, simply lots of cooking and sharing a meal with loved ones.
Growing up, no matter the season, she made it a point to have us together for dinner. Even on school nights, my mom made us wait for Dad to get home from the office so that we could dine as a family. My brother and I were the only kids on the block who ate at 9 pm!
I mentioned this to a working mother recently who declared, “Um, I will have NONE of that!”
While obsolete in today’s world, the scenario had pluses:
Dependability and Hard Work
By requiring mandatory attendance at supper, my folks set an example of consistency. Now by no means were we “Beaver Cleaver” (Google it); we were quite the opposite!
My folks did the best they could. They gave every day their ALL and at the end of it, no matter what, we would gather as one for a meal around our little kitchen table for 4.
I remember the sweet and sour smell of the holy trinity (sautéed onion, carrot and celery) filling the room and seeing Mom in her apron, blissful by the stove preparing dinner. She was so happy to greet my dad when he came through the door.
And while we were never sure what kind of mood he’d be in (usually pretty good), he was the consummate provider which taught me to be a dependable person.
Dad had his courtroom while Mom had a practice of her own! The kitchen was her domain. It was a diligent team effort: he worked hard to pay for the provisions that she constructed into masterpieces. We were fortunate to always have food on the table, I could count on that.
Like, REALLY good food. She excelled in the galley (and still does). Finding solace there, it became her outlet. Despite the busy work week, she would whip up sautéed pork chops from the Cordon Bleu cookbook with mashed potatoes and crème caramel on a Tuesday…knowing that this ritual is the glue that unites us…if only for a short while.
I also remember that feeling of wanting to leave the table way too early and feel sad for that now! Even back then (80’s) we were moving too fast. Always the last one to leave, Chef Catherine does not move hastily. She has a true desire to enjoy the moment, linger, hang out.
Serving us later gave her time to be creative. While I was upstairs watching Good Times (another bonus), chef was downstairs honing her craft. I think I was supposed to be doing my homework but the antics of JJ Evans were more appealing and dynomite!
Eating together gave us a sense of closeness. Mom understood the value of family time and how a meal connects us, creating an atmosphere of love. Food is about fellowship. For better or worse, we had each other.
She took her appreciation for cuisine on air in 1993 with a Home Chef cooking show and today has launched website (designed by me) complete with recipes/videos from the show, and new concoctions. This repository codifies her love of all things food and gives me such JOY to know that her passion/creations are now available for Everyone to share and enjoy For All Time! Bringin’ it All Home!
Take a look at her work at www.ahomechef.com. And stay for a while…savor the delight and unite in the luxury of food!