Saturday, March 15, 2008


Returning to Sunday family dinners
By Cornelia Seigneur
Thursday, March 13, 2008 OREGONIAN SW WEEKLY
Last month my daughter, Rachel, and I traveled to San Francisco to apply for her German passport. We added to our weekend a visit with my college friend Meri Bartolomucci and her husband, Ray Bartolomucci, who live in the area.
When Rachel and I arrived on a Friday, Ray, a restaurateur, announced he would cook a Sunday family dinner for us and a few others.
The Bartolomuccis go to church Saturday nights, so Sunday began not with preparation for church but with prep for dinner. Meri and I returned from a morning run at 11:30 to the aroma of garlic, sausage and onions. Dinner would not be until 7.
Though Ray's back was injured, there he was preparing a multicourse meal. Meri said, "Sunday dinner is an all-day labor of love for Ray."
Said Ray, "I grew up with Sunday night dinners."
Meri, Rachel and I went off with one of the Bartolomucci children to tour -- and taste -- two of the restaurants Ray and Meri recently opened. Meanwhile, Ray continued preparing the meal, including boiling potatoes -- 10 pounds of potatoes, to be exact.
"Those are for homemade gnocchi," Ray explained on our return. He taught Rachel how to roll them out by hand.
As family and friends arrived, we found our spots at the table. After Ray's thanksgiving prayer, we began sharing our Sunday dinner. It felt like family.
The evening inspired me to want to begin our own Sunday dinners, a tradition my husband, Chris, grew up with.
After Chris and I met in college, he'd take me to his parents' Sunday dinners in their cozy Milwaukie home, a tradition he shared with his sisters. remember the winter dinners especially, with the wood stove burning and the smell of a roast simmering and potatoes bubbling. Chris' dad greeted us with a hug and we'd hear a warm "Welcome" from Chris' mom in the kitchen.
So, even before Chris and I married, I felt very much at home with his parents -- like family.
After Chris and I married, we could not always make the Sunday dinners. Then the kids and life got busier and the dinners stopped.

Chris and I have created other family traditions instead. But Meri and Ray's Sunday meal inspired me.
Upon my recent return from San Francisco I told Chris, "I think we should make Sunday dinners a tradition like your folks used to do. It's a great way to kick off the week, and the kids could invite their friends. It'll create lifelong memories, as you've had and Ray has."
Chris liked the idea. But he said, "Ray's shoes are hard to fill -- Ray owns restaurants. Plus, I like my Sunday naps."
"Well, I'll be the one cooking," I countered.
"But someone will have to clean," he reminded me.
I'll worry about that part when we get closer. For now, it's all about family.
Real Life Mom appears the second Thursday of the month.
Visit Cornelia Seigneur, a West Linn writer and mom of five, at her Web site:

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