It’s not a single meal that stands out as the most memorable of my life. Variations of this same scene happened throughout my childhood. Sometimes I wonder if anything will ever taste as good as dinner on summer afternoons at my grandparents’ house.
Ree calls lunch dinner. Many southerners do. Breakfast is the first meal of the day, dinner is the second meal of the day, and supper is what most people call dinner. Ree’s country dinners are the absolute best.
We did our part by drumming up a big appetite as we played our hearts out all day. Swimming and splashing around in the river or just running through the yard, those were fun days. We were still slightly dripping river water and a little sticky from sunscreen when we made out way to the porch with beach towels wrapped around our shoulders. After drying off and putting shorts and shirts over our swimsuits, we were ready to wash our hands and eat.
Swimming and playing always makes you hungry. Ree had an appropriate feast prepared. We made our way to the kitchen, arguing over whose turn it was to sit on the stool, and joined Papa, Uncle Nickie, and whoever else happened to be there that day at the table.
The food! Fried tenderloins or pork chops. Creamed potatoes. Fried okra or fried squash. Macaroni and cheese (always). Black eyed peas shelled by us out on the porch. Butter beans or pinto beans. Green beans. Corn fresh from the cob. A sliced fresh cucumber, tomato, and onion on the side. Cornbread. Perfection. Each bite was full of delicious, local, fresh flavor.
As an adult, I know all the effort it takes to make a meal like that and then to clean up after it. Ree only sits down after everyone else had fixed their plate.
She has worked hard for years and serves her family graciously and with love. Knowing all the time and love she puts in to those meals makes them taste even better in my mind. Back then, we just scooted back from the table when we were done. We put our plates by the sink, told her a quick thanks, and skipped back outside to another childhood adventure.
Childhood would pass quickly enough. Every day I’m more grateful for how I grew up. Sunshine, fresh air, a little river water, and Ree’s cooking made me bloom.
I’m posting this in response to the Rocket City Bloggers Year Long Blogging Challenge topic about our most memorable meal.