Last Tuesday, I was over at Debbie’s house at around 5:30 pm as she started rummaging for leftovers and other end-of-the-week ingredients to make dinner. She was looking to feed six kids (mine and hers), not just her usual 3, which is pretty typical when we’re together at that hour. Sometimes I’ll remember to grab a handful of miscellaneous meats and veggies as I run out the door; other times I may show up empty handed, but I’m always eager to help prepare the meal. When we’re together, our kitchens become extensions of our own homes.
At first, Debbie began heating some pasta Bolognese from the night before, as I sat atop a bar stool keeping my friend company, watching her move from her counters to stovetop to sink. We chatted about which vegetable to serve alongside the pasta and she directed me to the broccoli on the bottom shelf of her fridge. The next thing I knew, I was drawn to the stove next to my friend, like a magnet to metal, making dinner the modern way: together, not alone, while talking, laughing and sharing stories about the snow day and all the fun that would soon come.
When you’re used to cooking with a friend, impromptu dinners are a common solution to the dinnertime struggle and the dilemma of what to serve. Two friends together can come up with a darn good healthy dinner to feed a bunch. And as kids sit next to friends, being reminded of manners not just from their own mother but their friend’s mother, the definition of family evolves. This communal way of cooking and eating, adds another dimension to the modern family dinner.