Welcome to the Better Together Community!
We all have traditions around family mealtimes. Some of us cherish memories of elaborate Sunday brunches while some of us more fondly recall ‘pizza & a movie’ Fridays. Whether it’s the tough-love ‘eat your veggies!’ memories that stick out or the quirky ways our parents accommodated picky eaters, family mealtimes are important to us. That’s why we’re on a mission to build a community of families seeking to make mealtimes fun, engaging and even more memorable.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, special occasions, challenging occasions, big eaters, and little eaters… We’re here to explore the traditions and tips that make mealtimes a good time.
For the debut of our first blog, we’ve interviewed local culinary celeb Barbara-jo McIntosh. Award-winning food expert & author of the bestselling Tin Fish Gourmet, Barbara-jo can frequently be found hosting literary events at her illustrious Books to Cooks store in Vancouver.
Here she kicks us off with a personal exploration of her most memorable family mealtime traditions.
BT: Tell us about your favorite family mealtime tradition.
BJM: Growing up, my family’s favorite thing to do at dinner was to argue a lot about politics. As the youngest at the table, I formed strong political bents at an early age in order to keep up and get attention! In my home the tradition was that we always had to eat together and there was no question about it. Cloth napkins, the table set, everyone did the dishes and everyone had a role. I have very fond memories of family meals.
BT: How did you get started as a “good cook”? (She doesn’t like to call herself a chef)
BJM: I started cooking when I left home at 18 purely out of necessity. Food was a very important part of my life, but my mom had always done the cooking. So I needed to figure it out and I wanted to eat well. I ended up taking culinary training, opening a restaurant and then getting into the food scene.
BT: And the rest is history! What recipes do you feel are especially fun to cook with the help of children?
BJM: I love breakfast best. Breakfast is super fun to cook with kids and when it’s a nice big meal, you’re all set for the day. Much better than when I was growing up and my mom used to make me eat liver for breakfast once a week, lots of fun!
BT: Share some tips with us on how parents can engage children during mealtime.
BJM: I think it’s important to create a warm dynamic around the family kitchen. Growing up, my mom did most of the cooking, but we were always there and engaged- doing homework at the kitchen table, making sure the table was set properly. I think it’s nice for everyone take part in the ceremony of the meal. For example, asking a child to pick flowers for the table, or choose a jug of water or lemonade, or help set the glasses. There are always lots of little jobs that can be done. In many ways, this can be just like starting as a cook in a restaurant; you do everything else before you actually start cooking!
So true! Helping is just another word for fun in the vocabulary of a child. Talking with Barbara-jo got us thinking, how do most people feel when they eat together as a family? Does food = love in most of our homes? As we set out to grow the Better Together community, we’d love to hear about your family meals. Share your insights, tips or challenges with the community here or continue the discussion on our Facebook page.