(in the photo: I'm eating steamed mussels at Redfish Restaurant in Port Orford. Hubby took this picture, sitting across me.)
You add up the hours and sigh. So much of our energy goes into thinking about food, exploring food, selecting food, preparing, eating, cleaning up. In one day, the activity of eating could take up half of our waking hours.
My mother's routine of getting the main meal on the table was to get up at seven, get us to school with a slice of bread and jam, a glass of milk, make the beds and clean the house, then walk across town to the meat market, the vegetable stands, the bakery. Along the way she caught up with friends and relatives. With her shopping bag full, she walked back home, slipped out of her heels and prepared the main meal of the day. Housewives spent many hours in food preparation.
When we returned home to eat the main meal around noon or so, the pasta would be ready to go into the boiling water, the vegetables had been prepared, the meat was grilled or stewed. Dad too had returned from his work, and after washing up, he'd take his seat at the head of the table and poured wine for himself and Mother, and added a dash to our water glasses. School work was discussed first, then other affairs.
My routine and my husband's, during our working years was nothing like this. I woke the children; they fixed themselves cereal, grabbed snacks, and all of us dashed out of the house way before seven. We all returned after six; the children had after school events and child care providers, hubby and I worked way past our eight hours shift. Back in the fold, sharing a quick meal together, we all returned to homework or housekeeping chores that couldn't wait another day. Bill paying, laundry, vacuuming. Most of the time, we all collapsed in front of a television set to watch the news or a favorite program.
No wonder we relied on drive ins, pick-ups, take-outs, frozen meals, fast food meals, eat in your car meals.Who had the time to sit down, with a glass of wine, across the table with someone?
We have arrived to a time in our society's evolution when what kill us is our modern way of eating.
We eat poorly.
In a hurry.
Eating has become a leisure activity, to be done only if time is available. No time during our working days. Better get work done while we can; while the Stock Exchange is ticking; while deadlines loom.
And so, after horrendous commutes, we pick up Kentucky Fried Chicken's big bucket meal. Tonight, plenty of food. And no one has to clean up.
Tonight, we might be able to sit with little Abby and read her that favorite book of hers. Tonight, we might watch Jeopardy together.
Too bad we can't skip eating completely.