"Please won't you stay for dinner?"

October 16, 2009
By Willow Smith SILVER, Culver, Indiana
Willow Smith SILVER, Culver, Indiana
5 articles 0 photos 0 comments

“Please, won’t you stay for dinner?”

As long as I can remember the art of cuisine has fascinated me. Not just the succulent tastes, but the rich aromas that drift from a garlicky salmon linguine dish, or the picturesque form of a teetering lemon meringue pie. My mother has always made home cooked- meals with the freshest ingredients from our 100 X 40 ft long mink-manured garden. Following in her footsteps, I have spent countless hours flipping through recipe books splattering the pages with my concoctions. Sunday morning omelets, bursting with sautéed vegetables and melting cheese, made from eggs fresh from our chicken coop, has become a favorite of visitors. My blackberry roulade dusted with powdered sugar defines the utmost delicate dessert.

Food has a deep meaning within my family. Cooking brings us together in a variety of curious ways. My Uncle John fishes year-round bringing freshly filleted bluegills and walleye for us to flour and fry in sizzling butter. I distinctly remember him entering our house on a school night holding a 48 inch musky by the gills as it dripped blood on the kitchen floor. We immediately sprang into action chopping olives, garlic, and cilantro, then shredding cheese to mix in for the crostini hors d’ oeuvres, while others prepared butter and herbs for the fish.

Dessert is a seasonal fare—rhubarb tarts in the spring, apple and blueberry pies in the summer, and as we move beyond autumn’s pumpkin and zucchini desserts, the darkest chocolate unfolds for the winter – cakes and cookies and the monthly mousse.

Huge Sunday brunches, Friday night fish fries, mid-week ethnic cooking, and always luscious leftovers; it is time set aside to cook and laugh and tell stories, then celebrate a wonderful feast. Cleaning up afterward is reserved for the true aficionados. It is as much a part of the meal as the preparation. There will always be Uncle John’s off color jokes and Aunt Vicki and Aunt Cecilia’s outraged reactions; there will be Uncle Peter’s partial sitting next to his plate and the empty thimbleberry jam jar next to that.

My aunts and uncles attend all of our birthdays and my gifts over the years have included lemon squeezers, zesters, insect- covered aprons, designer spatulas, polka-dotted juice glasses, and a miniature Kitchen Aide that didn’t work.
My mother and I tie our aprons, run to the garden for a forgotten herb, set the butter to soften, arrange the flowers on the table, and clear the decks as we set out to create the most beautiful and delicious meal. Venison tenderloin from the deer shot at Thanksgiving, Crepes Florentine steaming with spinach and gruyere, wild rice soup with julienned vegetables, and the last of the berry tarts begins each year. Our guests chat away while my mom and I sweat from our temples. An occasional profanity over a recipe gone wrong is drowned out by margarita and wine-fueled merriment Always welcoming a story and an appetite, my family never ceases to ask, “Please, won’t you stay for dinner?”

The author's comments:
This was written for the number one college I would like to go to, the questoin as was asked, "Along the edge of ancient maps it used to say, “Here there be monsters.” What does it say at the edge of your map, and why does it say that?"

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