I am a bit of a stickler for family dinner. We sit down together to eat every night (once a week it’s at a restaurant, but still). Sometimes I wonder why I am doing it—I am often tired and crabby, my children can be finicky and distracted and impatient. We would many evenings, given a choice, each rather go off to a corner on our own with a favorite snack and a book. But we return night after night to the table with the clatter of silverware falling to the floor and the shared stories and the new tastes and flavors tried for the first time, and we know we are doing the right thing. This is how we do food in our family.
A steadfast meal in our repertoire is salad night. It’s really an excuse for me to empty out my refrigerator onto the dining table, and see what happens. On this particular night we had fresh local lettuce, shredded carrots, avocado, caramelized shallots and corn, bacon crumbles, hard boiled eggs, cucumbers quick-pickled in rice vinegar, goat cheese, toasted almonds, and some leftover roasted potatoes.
Some of us have some of everything (I am the glutton in the family). My son eats precious few things, but somehow ekes out a meal, a surprisingly balanced one at that. I find that when my kids are given choices and control over what goes on their plate, they are more likely to try new things. Salad night is great for that.
When they’ve had seconds and then thirds and can’t eat another bite, family dinner feels just right.