Starting in May of 2006, when I was just ten years old, my dad and I started making dinner together every Sunday night. We didn’t anticipate that this would be such a long standing tradition, but one Sunday night turned into two, and here we are just over eight years later. Last night was the final Sunday dinner before I leave for college—an event that made me choke up in the pasta aisle of Trader Joe’s. That doesn’t mean, of course, that there won’t be more dinners during the summer and winter vacations, but it is the first real break in a tradition that has meant so much to me.
Making tomato sauce, winter of 2008-2009.
The food and cooking was one of the reasons why I loved making Sunday dinner, but it was always so much more than that. Sundays were about spending a few minutes in the morning planning the menu and making a list, one person with a cookbook and a pad of paper and the other rummaging around in the cabinets to see if we still had a bottle of sesame oil hiding behind the red wine vinegar.
Chocolate Soufflé, September 27, 2009. Modeling done by Aidan, pre-growth spurt.
No Sunday dinner would be complete without a trip to the grocery store, a route that we biked the first few years, then started driving when it came time for me to practice for my driving test. Dad would head to the butcher counter, and I to the international foods aisle before meeting in the produce section for the final decision of the morning: romaine or spring mix?
On the first Sunday, we made breaded, pan-fried Tilapia with roasted red potatoes and salad, which we also made the second week. Thankfully we started to branch out on the third week, and soon no cuisine was left alone. A few highlights from our dinners include sweet potato and potato gnocchi, French onion soup, falafel, homemade ravioli, Thai curries, aloo gobi, carrot and walnut pizza, grilled pizza, Vietnamese bun, all types of pastas, risottos, and polentas, lettuce cups, mushroom bourguignon, and a nearly unheard of quantity of salad.
Stuffed mushrooms, roasted sweet potatoes, and rustic dinner rolls, probably fall of 2008.
In the summers we would explore the berries at the farmer’s markets before bringing home cardboard trays of loganberries, ollalieberries, raspberries, and marionberries to turn into brilliant containers of fuchsia and eggplant-colored sorbets that the four of us would eat together at the table, Aidan’s spoon clattering against the edge of his bowl in a race against melting berry juice.
Chocolate Pots de Crème, winter of 2008.
Above all, I owe so much to my dad for devoting much of his weekend to fold ravioli with the precision of an engineer and the patience of an Italian grandmother. He rescues the burning walnuts that I often neglect on the stove and closes every drawer that, despite my intentions, stays open every time I reach for a spoon or measuring cup. I am so lucky to have a family that shares their love of food with me every single Sunday, and I am going to miss these dinners more than I ever thought I would back when I was ten years old and making our very first Sunday dinner.
Our last Sunday dinner was a good one: Arugula, apple, and feta salad, grilled Portobello mushrooms, Cacio e Pepe spaghetti, and almond-crusted chicken (for the meat eaters). For dessert, two sorbets: one made with blackberries and the other with golden raspberries. It was a bittersweet evening, but I know that the next time I’m back in Palo Alto, Sunday dinner will start again like it never stopped.