A Guest at Many Tables

Mary BarrasStandardLeave a Comment

What do you do to escape; when you really need to fly the coop and retreat from the suck?  Do you get into your cryogenic decompression chamber, drink a vat of Boone's Farm wine, and breathe in and out of a paper bag?  Maybe you mow the lawn in your underwear. To each his/her own! Me? I visit with friends or family and share a bevy or a meal for comfort.  If I'm having a personal struggle, I might confide in them to hear their pearls of wisdom. Other times we just share some laughs.   

When I was a little kid, I did much the same. Things got a little hairy in my household. When I say hairy, I mean there was a lot of yelling. This wasn't the place you'd go to mediate a conflict, you know what I mean?  I escaped the chaos by getting on my Schwinn banana seat bike and visiting with the many families in our neighborhood.    

While I was on these "freedom rides," I'd feel the proverbial wind in my hair and spring in my feet.  Each family had a different nickname for me. The McCree’s called me Loretta, at the Tweedles, I was Mary Lou, in the Flanagan home, I heard Mariola, and at the Pittmans, I went by Roberta.  I had so much fun at other peoples' houses! I found a lot of peace in their non-yelling sanctuaries (at least that's what it felt like in my young mind). Dinner time would roll around and they'd invite me to stay.  This was outstanding! I got to see how other families "do life." I was blessed to enjoy what they ate and it was always great! Isn't food that other people prepare just extraordinary? I was the beneficiary of some of the finest meals in Port Arthur, Texas!  There were other people's gumbo, other people's meatloaf, roast beef, pork chops, chicken fricassee, and many kinds of meat prepared Cajun-style; smothered with onions and bell peppers. My taste buds are on a slow trip back in time now! 


Ok, I'm back.  

My wonderful friends even exposed me to healthy foods.  I’m remembering a day at the McCree’s house when they were serving broccoli.  I had never tasted it and I, a kid whose 4 food groups included candy, candy, candy, and candy with sprinkles, was scared to try such a foreign, healthy and green specimen.  They convinced me by saying that broccoli was baby trees. I remember thinking, I like trees! So, I gave it a try and lo and behold, I loved it! Presently, I’m a huge fan of vegetables, with the exception of water chestnuts, I jokingly refer to them as swamp nuts.  

This pattern of eating and food continues to this day.  I've been inspired by every family's fabulous cooking prowess and now, as a grown-up, I absolutely adore cooking!  One of my great joys in life is preparing an extravagant meal for friends and family or gladly inviting my son's friends for dinner.  I'm happy to repay the kindness that was gifted to me! I am privileged to have been a guest at so many tables. Not only did the grownups teach me what volumes of cookbooks couldn't, but they also gave me the extra parenting and attention I so desired.   

Be it entertaining friends with an unforgettable couple of courses, whipping up a quick appetizer, or taking my dish over to a friend’s house for a potluck, cooking and sharing meals with others is still my escape.  I just have nicer wheels now!

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