Photo by Nicole Michalou

Eating as a family makes food taste better.  To experience eating as a family offers an opportunity to have a memorable experience.  Many studies have been done regarding why and how food brings us together.

One of the greatest memories one can have is the first time you were in the kitchen with your mother, grandmother or favorite cook.  The excitement of finally learning how to make people smile at the table as their food did was hard to contain.  But we soon learn that it takes time to develop the level of skill but not too long to develop the joy of being in the kitchen.

Bringing family and food together is often associated with not only eating but emotions.  Often our lives connect in the kitchen during anxiety, joy, anger, depression, and sadness.  Life’s events, good or bad, are often shared at the table.  It is where we resolve and discuss some of the most pertinent issues we are confronted with in our lives.  Eating together is a lifeline for relationships.  The different tastes of food, sweet, sour, full meals, snacks or just a cup of coffee and a cookie binds our days. 

Some of the different foods we cook together that span cultures and we need to sustain our lives include:


Eating together is also a good way to teach children and other family members about good nutrition.  We can urge them to eat more vegetables, but it is far easier to put vegetables in foods and make them more palatable.  Today there is a craze for roasting vegetables.  If eating raw vegetables in a “veggie tray” isn’t your cup of tea and sends the kids back outside, roasting is a great alternative.  Vegetables develop a nutty caramelization flavor in the oven after 30 minutes and with the right spices eating vegetables becomes easier. Vegetables pack a nutritional punch that is also good for our health.  The grocery stores are filled with many varieties of vegetables, so be daring and experiment with tastes and flavors.

Teaching children to make salads is also a way to incorporate vegetables and a variety of flavors into a meal.  The usual lettuce, tomato and cucumber salad gets boring after a while.  Spice it up with carrots, green onions, radishes, avocados, dried fruits, nuts, or fresh diced apples.  Dressings can be as simple as oil and vinegar or one of the many varieties of bottled dressings available in grocery store.  There is a dressing or spice mix for whatever taste you are craving.  Salads are also a healthy way to start or end a meal.  The American culture begins a meal with the salad, the European cultures end the meal with a salad.  Most families sitting around the table don’t care if the salad is cold and vegetables crisp.


One sure way to create curiosity in the kitchen is to cook with spices.  Each culture has spices that are used in their cooking.  Indian cooking calls for curry.  Mexican dishes will have chili powder, fresh chiles or cumin. Italian dishes will generally have garlic, basil and often oregano.  The French people like sage, parsley, thyme, and bay leaf.  There are numerous varieties of salt and pepper.  There are a staggering 50,000 varieties of peppers grown around the world.   They don’t always have to be enjoyed in their fresh form, often they can be dried to add a specific flavor profile to any dish.  The scotch bonnet or habanero chili pepper is sure to bring tears to your eyes from the heat in the back of your throat and then in your belly.  Bringing family and food to the table depends upon the type of cooking and the spices used in your cooking.


Pizza is one of the most versatile dishes families can cook together.  Everyone has a different like or dislike as a pizza topping.  The original pizza was a simple cheese and tomato pie.  Today there are buffalo chicken varieties, Hawaiian with pineapple, reliable sausage, pepperoni, and mushroom to the supreme pizza which could have everything but the kitchen sink as a topping.  Crusts can be thick, thin, or deep dish made with the traditional bread.  Today there is a craze for a vegan cauliflower crust.  Who doesn’t like pizza?


Pasta is another versatile dish.  Many people think of spaghetti and meatballs or sausage as the traditional pasta.  But growing up on a farm, we always thought pasta can be served with olive oil, garlic and most any vegetable from the garden.  There are many different varieties of pasta from regular spaghetti to penne, farfalle, ditalini and of course many stuffed pastas like ravioli, manicotti, and shells.  Sauces can be red, or simple like olive oil, butter, with or without meat. Creating your own pasta dish and sauce is a wonderful way to bring family together to the table.

In my book Generations of Good Food, you will find many different pasta dishes.  Pizza dough and find a variety of vegetables in many of the dishes.  The book is a compilation of 200 recipes that range from difficulty for a novice in the kitchen to a trained chef.  Looking through the recipes, reading the stories and looking at the pictures, you will get hungry and want to go into the kitchen to begin cooking.  Buon Apetito.

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