We have a picture of our kids eating peaches on the beach in Melides, Portugal. The dunes are behind them and they are both staring out at the ocean, peaches in hand, juice running down their chins. The truth is that I haven’t looked at that picture in over a year. I don’t need to because the memory is so clear that I can almost smell the salt in their hair, feel the warmth of their bodies, and can almost taste those peaches as if I’d eaten one myself. Each day we spent there began the same way – making lunch to take to the beach. My family recently traveled to Orlando for the Family Forward retreat and during a workshop for Barilla’s Share The Table, Daniele Baliani, Barilla’s guest chef, recalled the days his family spent at the beach – a blanket laid out on the sand, simple food to be shared - and as he spoke, those memories from our time in Melides came back to me.
While offering ideas to help families make mealtime more meaningful, Chef Baliani led families in making a simple pasta salad reminiscent of those his family used to share on the beach. Each family received a tray with all the necessary ingredients and my kids began by tasting – a piece of basil, a sun dried tomato, a finger dipped into olive oil, a penne noodle popped into a mouth distractedly – and then began following instructions. I gave the occasional suggestion but watched as they made decisions together – add all the sun dried tomatoes but only a few red peppers – and worked together to make our meal, negotiating who would hold the bowl and who would stir. And as we sat down to eat, I realized how often we talked about the benefits of working together to prepare a meal in the simplest of terms. We emphasized fun, cooperation and responsibility and those are tremendous benefits. But more than that, when we prepare and share a meal together, we are creating our family’s history. The sights and smells and tastes, our hands joined in work – these become a part of who we are.
Every time I snap fresh green beans, I think of my mother, of hot Kansas summers and our hands working through a pile of beans together. My daughter says her favorite meal is stroganoff because it’s the meal she makes with Luisa, and I hope she’ll someday remember standing on a step stool to cut onions, the way the steam from the boiling water felt on her face and the way they carefully placed the pasta in the pot. I know my son already has some of those kind of memories because every Thanksgiving, he says, “Well, I always make the cranberry sauce…”
Each of us have our favorite memories from our trip to Orlando. Miguel loved the roller coasters and his giant Lard Lad donut. Zeca loved searching for penny machines to press pennies with all the Universal characters. Luisa loved every moment she got to spend in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I loved that we were able to be together without the distraction of our everyday responsibilities and I hope to hold on to the revelations I had while making a simple pasta salad with my kids.
These shared experiences bond us together now and will serve us all in the future as well. These are the times we’ll look back on and ask each other, “Remember when…”
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Barilla, however, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive sentiments towards Barilla or their products.
Featured Photo Credit: Vikki Reich