[September kicked off a new endeavor for me… a monthly column in Catholic Digest Magazine called Savoring Sundays. Below is an excerpt of my first installment. Please do enjoy, and be sure to go CatholicDigest.com to get the recipe and to let them know you enjoyed the column! Thank you!]
Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Sundays were all about family and food — good food. During the formative years of my childhood and beyond, my mom and dad would drive me and my younger sister to my paternal grandparents’ house after Sunday Mass. There we would be joined by my dad’s sister and three brothers and their respective families. In all, we were 12 adults and 12 kids, and I loved it.
During my earliest years, Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw Young lived in the old area of Baton Rouge, off Winbourne Avenue. Their backyard was enclosed by a ramshackle, rusty chain-link fence. Through a slim gap between the corner of their fence and their neighbor’s wooden stockade fence grew several blackberry bushes. As one of the smallest and skinniest of the bunch, I was often pressed into service by my older and bigger cousins, who would toss a small bucket over the fence to me once I squeezed through the gap. My job? To gather blackberries for them. Sometimes they even let me have some. What I remember most, however, are the painful thorn pricks and my hands getting stained a deep purple from the blackberries. Those were good times.
Years later my grandparents moved to a different area of Baton Rouge. By then I was older, and my cousins and I all were into expressing our independence. That era is marked in my memory by long walks through the neighborhood with my cousins, talking and dreaming about what the future might hold. Incidentally, I am very thankful that the neighbors around my grandparents’ new house did not have blackberry bushes.
But no matter which house we went to on Sundays, what I recall the most is my grandfather’s rocking chair and how his house smelled of sautéed onions in butter, brown gravy, and rice. Beef roast with rice and gravy was a staple, a fairly simple meal that would easily feed the small army that was our family. Homemade cornbread, garden salads, and collard greens were also frequently on the menu. On Thanksgiving, Paw-Paw Young would cook two turkeys. He would bake one in the oven, and the second he would inject with Cajun seasonings and then deep-fry in a special fryer outside. Those fried turkeys were the best! I savored them. As a matter of fact, I savor the memory of them even today.
The word savor intrigues me; it always has. It conjures up for me images of beautifully set tables with fine china and exquisite serving pieces filled with warm, rich foods. It hints at leisurely afternoons around the table with family and friends, laughter and stories echoing through the house. Maybe that’s just me.
The basic meaning of savor is to taste good food or drink and to enjoy it completely. A deeper meaning of savor describes enjoying or appreciating to the full some good thing or experience, especially by dwelling on it or pondering it. We can savor moments, experiences, even life itself. To that end, savor calls me to attention, reminding me of the necessity to slow down, to relax, to take my time and to enjoy what is before me … both the food and the company. I don’t know about you, but that type of slowing down, that type of attention, is not always easy. Life is simply too busy for most of us in this age of distraction.
This column is named Savoring Sundays, and I hope that it helps both you and me to hold onto the importance of slowing down, relaxing, and attentively connecting with friends and family regularly … even weekly!
It seems that savoring came naturally to me when I was a child. I had less to worry about (mainly those blackberry bush thorns — and sometimes my cousins), and life was just simpler back then. There were no smartphones, no mobile devices, no video games, and only three channels on the television. It was very different than today.
Today, if we are going to savor our Sundays, our families, and our family meals, then we have to be intentional. We have to make some kind of special effort. To that end, in each issue I will share with you some practical suggestions along with a recipe or two to help us learn to savor Sundays.
This month I want to share with you my recipe for pasta Bolognese, a hearty Italian dish that can feed a large family (or a small army). A tomato sauce featuring beef and/or pork, pasta Bolognese is often referred to in Italy as ragù alla bolognese or simply ragù.
***Read the rest and get the recipe at CatholicDigest.com.***