Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Family Dinner

Never Done: Ate at Enzo's Brick Oven Pizza

It's three blocks away. I walk past it every time I return my car to its home in Karen and Todd's driveway, and every time I go to the post office, and every time I go do basically anything in Windsor Terrace, which is also three blocks away. And yet after living here for 4 months, I had not gone in. And then I did. And it was good.

I ordered a Puttanesca pizza to take home for me and Josh -- olives, capers, garlic, spinach, mozzarella. Anchovies optional. I opted against. (Call me picky, but I am not fond of hairy food.) And as I sat there waiting for it to come out, I noticed what a family place it is -- a single mom with a huge glass of sangria, her kids getting up to go look at the beautiful eel in the fish tank; the waiters completely relaxed with the gay family with the baby; big plates of pasta and other homey Italian food .... It reminded me of the one restaurant near where I grew up. It's no longer there (but there are others now) and I don't remember it's name, but it was an Italian place in either Bolton or Clinton, MA, and I used to order cheese ravioli.

Mostly, growing up, we ate dinner at home. My mom was a great cook, and my dad liked to cook when he was around (although his dishes were complex and took forever and thus weren't well geared towards hungry kids.) My sister and I both learned to cook when we were quite young, and were responsible for making our own school lunches when we were still in elementary school. (My mom didn't like mornings.) But as I was saying, usually we ate dinner at home. We went to restaurants if there was an occasion, like if we were in Boston for something else. I never really thought about it at the time, but my dad must have eaten his lunch every day at restaurants, and I would be surprised if they didn't include a martini or two. In some ways it was very Mad Men, even though it was far from New York. But he was still a New Yorker at heart and soul, and his work brought him into worlds I could never have imagined, even if I had known what he was really doing. The more I think about it, the more I know there was a martini or two at lunch. No wonder he wasn't hungry when he got home, and wanted to do other stuff before dinner. And no wonder my mom wanted to feed us kids early - and move on with the evening and progress into the night. But they compromised, and found some magic hour that seems to have been tolerable for everyone.

I don't really have family dinner in my life now. Josh and I sometimes eat together, and we sometimes don't. We sometimes have other people over, and we sometimes go out. There's very little ritual or stability around dinner time, and I don't think I miss that. But sitting in Enzo's waiting for the pizza, I realized I will want to create a stable dinner culture for a child who comes into my life. I won't want it to be inflexible, but I'd like there to be some there there. Something usual from which we can depart when we want to. In other words: family dinner. Sometimes taking these smaller Never Done opportunities bring me the largest shifts of consciousness.


  1. I grew up with very stable family dinners -- the same time every night, pretty much, and always balanced in every way. And although I sometimes chafed at them, (like when I became a teenager), I remember them now so fondly. Sitting with each other, listening to each other, everyone relating what happened to them that day and telling stories... At holidays, we would have bigger family meals with grandparents, and sometimes aunts and uncles and cousins, and lots of storytelling. I really miss that...


  2. Was everyone a good storyteller in your family?

  3. Tell me more about this large shift in consciousness.