Monday, September 3, 2012

What Ever Happened To Sunday Dinner?

Sunday is the traditional day of the week that families come together for one thing that binds us all as one--to eat. There are very few of us Southerns who did not grow up sharing Sunday dinner with extended family members. Cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, and even a few strangers would pile around the table, pass bowlfuls of vegetables, pans of casseroles, and platters of chicken, roast beef, or ham. In some families, one person would insist on making all the food, usually the matriarch. She would have a name like Meemaw, Granny, Big Mommy, or Mamaw. And this much I know is true, no food ever tasted better than food from her kitchen.

Although times have changed and people are much busier doing less important things on Sunday than spending time with those they love, I always try to have a Sunday dinner of some sort. Whether I break bread with just my intimate family of two or with my family of souls I have created for myself as an adult or with my actual blood family, I enjoy that meal more than any other.

I have my favorite meals, depending on who is cooking that day. My mother happens to be one of the better cooks in all of Leslie County so it is tough to actually pinpoint a favorite dish of hers. I will eat most anything she puts in front of me, with the exception of liver (fried or sauteed), gizzards, or her coleslaw (sorry, Mom). My sister is a safe cook. She doesn't go for anything too exotic and she is very guarded with her use of spices.  As long as I have a salt shaker nearby, I am good with most anything she cooks as well. Andy is a fabulous cook, and I can not remember ever not liking something that he has served for dinner. I think you can see a pattern here, and that pattern is the path to my obesity.

There are many times on Sunday when I have been expecting meatloaf only to walk in to the kitchen to find a chicken casserole baking. I have been pumped about tearing into my father's fried catfish only to arrive at my parent's to find burgers on the grill. There are times when no one even felt like cooking and a pizza was called in as a substitute. I just roll with the flow. We still have a good time and eat whatever is put in front of us.  Again, I know my path to obesity is quite clear. I see it, too.

However, I read this morning of a man in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,who is not so easy going about his dinner expectations. This fella came home from work anticipating a meal of fried chicken only to discover that his daughter-in-law had BAKED the fowl. I know, I know. "What's the big deal?" you are asking me right now.

The big deal is that he pitched such a fit a fight broke out between him and his family. Not an argument, but a full-fledged-I'm-going-to-hit-you-with-a-chair-fight that overflowed from the kitchen into the street outside the family's home where the neighbors called the police, resulting in George's arrest.

"He's usually an easy-going guy," his mother stated, although to tell the truth, she didn't sound that convincing.

His girlfriend said very matter-of-factually, "They didn't do it right and George got mad." She shrugged her shoulders as if this is all the explanation that anyone needed.

After watching the report from a local news station, here is the scenerio as I imagine it:

The brouhaha all started with the peas and corn. The daughter-in-law prepares her in a bowl in the microwave. George doesn't like that to begin with, but when she didn't drain them after she removed the nuked veggies, that pissed George off. I gotta say, at this point, I am with George. If you are so lazy you just microwave some puny peas and corn, at least drain the poor things after they are sufficiently hot enough on the outside to scald your mouth but still frozen in the middle.

Before George could gather his thoughts and forget about the the peas and corn fiasco, his son placed the platter of chicken on the table. George was stunned to see that it had been baked, not fried. I imagine George had made his position on baked chicken perfectly clear to the family on several occasions. The man didn't like it. There was only one way to enjoy a tasty bird leg and that was fried, by God.

George grumbled and cussed under his breath and took a bite of his chicken leg.  He threw it down on to his plate in disgust and told everyone sitting there that the bird was dry.

That was the final straw for daughter-in-law. She then stood up, picked her chair up, and proceeded to pound George with it. All Hell then broke loose in that kitchen. Peas and corn were thrown, the undrained water burning whatever it touched; the over baked brown-n-serve rolls were used as rocks and hurled at people's heads; the dried, jerky-like chicken was flung to the ground. The melee looked very much like a rugby scrum as the family moved from the kitchen, out the door to the carport, and further out to the street. Mrs. Nimthistle who lives next door was appalled and could barely dial 9-1-1 for fear of missing part of the action.

George was taken in for harassment and assault charges. I bet George told the police he should be charged for assault with a deadly weapon because that damned chicken was so dry, but I am just guessing. Not surprisingly, both the son and daughter-in-law were wanted for unrelated charges in another county and were arrested for that when the police arrived. I bet it had something to do with KFC introducing their baked chicken a few months ago, but again, just a hunch.

So if you sit down to dinner tonight in hopes of a nice juicy steak or plateful of spaghetti with homemade sauce and instead you get handed a bologna sandwich, potato chips, and a pickle spear, my advice would be to roll with it. Ultimately, Sunday dinners are about spending time with those you love and not the quality of the food, unless you are eating at George's house. If you are eating there, grab a drumstick, hunker down, and pray for daylight.

Here is the actual news story:

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