Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dumpling

Sharing a meal with another is a symbol of acceptance
of the other, an acknowledgment of one's vulnerability
as a human, of the necessity of fuel for survival:
a peaceful conjoining of needs.

I just finished Marilynne Robinson's Home, where
I gleamed this gem:

How to announce the return of comfort and well-being except by cooking something fragrant. That is what her mother always did. After every calamity of any significance she would fill the atmosphere of the house with the smell of cinnamon rolls or brownies, or with chicken and dumplings, and it would mean, This house has a soul that loves us all, no matter what. It would mean peace if they had fought and amnesty if they had been in trouble. It had meant, You can come down to dinner now, and no one will say a thing to bother you, unless you have forgotten to wash your hands.

And then, a little later, this:

She made up the dumpling batter and dropped it onto the stewed chicken. She, also, had eaten some terrible dumplings. It occurred to her to wonder if they were ever good in the ordinary sense, if at best they were not just familiar, inoffensive. They really were too inoffensive. It might have been the word "dumpling" she liked rather than the thing itself.

6 comments:

  1. Hey, why wait for a calamity?

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  2. The Great Dumpling Calamity.
    Title of my first novel.

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  3. I agree with K - why wait for disaster? I made gumbo last night and life's been fairly uneventful lately.

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  4. From my mom and dad I learned a meal was just a meal. Sometimes you get a favorite but not always. To this day I hate the smell of onions cooking. Now a meal (dinner) is time together, a small island of king's-X.

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  5. roughterrain: Yes I am.

    Roy, it must seem that there's an ongoing disaster here, because there are few things I enjoy more than cooking!

    Bill, glad to hear that mealtime has become a more pleasant activity for you, if I'm reading your comment right!

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