A little while ago I purchased the book Kitchen Table Memoirs. Only now, in the quiet aftermath of Christmas have I been able to sit and finally read it. The last two days have found me scurrying away to quiet corners (it would be easier to find a unicorn in this household) to voraciously devour this wee gem of a book. Not only is it a fine collection of Aussie writers personal kitchen table memories, but every book purchased helps Foodbank’s fight to end hunger.
These stories made me both giggle and guffaw out loud. They touched my heart and tantalised my taste buds. After finishing and experiencing the ‘great book post blues’, I plonk myself down at our own kitchen table. Hands placed atop, I look good and hard at an object that I have always loved but maybe have taken for granted.
It is a solid piece of wooden furniture that seats 6-8 comfortably but can magically accommodate more when required. Already an antique when my parents purchased it back in the 70’s, it is made of Western Australian hardwood and has stood the test of time.
Our childhood memories are engrained onto its surface. Hours of art and craft, happy times, the darker times and the varying foods that our adventurous mumma placed upon there. Back then, Mum was a member of a health food co-op and as such, our table saw homemade bread, yoghurt made from scratch, wholemeal pizza bases and other hippy based Moosewood style dishes. (And no, I did not eat all of it, crying in disgust ‘I just want normal shop bought white bread like other kids get!’).
At other times, more exotic dishes were laid to rest on the glitter speckled wood. Italian style cannelloni made with paper thin crepes and Indian style green beans come foremost to mind. I remember the cannelloni being made for those crazy 70’s dinner parties, replete with bearded men and women in flowing embroidered blouses. I am sure the table saw it’s fair share of red wine stains from wine that my father and his hairy cohorts had bottled themselves.
And always the more steady food of Mum’s upbringing. Irish stews, scones, vegetable soups and many delicious baked slices such as Belgian slice and the super yummy Weetbix based Scott’s Farewell Slice. Being an orchadist’s daughter, there was always an abundance of fresh fruit and veg. An hereditary condition methinks.
Our ma has always been emphatic that she was not a great cook but her 4 daughters beg to differ and I am sure if the table could speak, it would agree with us.
The table is now regularly laden with our lads Lego, various game pieces, homework, colouring pencils and paper. And of course the many meals lovingly (and at times begrudgingly) placed upon it. The patina of our life is now being written into it’s beloved wooden surface.
It speaks of the funny (?) time I arrived home after a weekend away and how The Yak (with a loving heart) had sanded it down and re-stained it a hideous yellowy varnish that shone like a bloody beacon in the night. Tears did fall that day.
Our extended family now gather around it. We are not little girls anymore but grown women with careers, families, joys and troubles of our own. This table joins us, even when we are disconnected.
It speaks of friends who have joined us and the many words and feelings that have sunk into this receptacle of our lives.
This table reminds me that we are not only what we eat. We are also where we eat and who we choose to eat with. Of the importance that food plays in the fabric of our daily lives, not only as sustenance but in the making of memories. After reading Kitchen Table Memoirs, I don’t think I shall ever take our table for granted again.
For further details on this wonderful book and on Foodbank, go here: