I’m fairly certain that few of you would know the name Marion Cunningham (if you do, please drop me a line, I’m fairly certain we’re destined to be friends), but she was one of the world’s most well-respected food writers, and the mother of the home-cooking movement. To be fair, I’ve never been a devout follower of her recipes – I much prefer the lazy-college-kid-style cookbooks with the brightly-coloured covers from the likes of Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray; but without Marion, it is likely that American home-cooking would have gone the way of the dinosaur, and for that we have a lot to thank her for.
What I love and respect about this remarkable woman, is the fact that she reminded readers everywhere that cooking wasn’t about impressing anyone, and it went far beyond simply feeding the family – it was about making sure that family got together, that kids had a chance to learn the lessons they can only learn when sitting together over a meal (like chewing with your mouth closed), and that building relationships works best when fueled by good wine, tasty food and hearty, flowing conversations.
Marion, like Mark Bittman, remind me of why I love cooking and entertaining as much as I do. What makes a dinner great isn’t the fancy setting, or the mind-blowingly good food, or the silent, efficient service (though all of that certainly helps). What makes a dinner great is the guest list – the people you’ve invited (or those who need no invitation), the conversations they will contribute to, the laughter you will share with them, and most of all, the memories and bonds you will forge over something as simple as chicken soup.
That’s what cooking and entertaining is all about. It’s about sitting down, committing the time, and getting to know one another over, and over, and over again.
“Food is more than fodder. It is an act of giving and receiving because the experience at table is a communal sharing; talk begins to flow, feelings are expressed, and a sense of well-being takes over.”
Thanks for reminding us about what it means to cook and eat in the company of loved ones and friends. Your waffle recipe will be remembered, cherished, and cooked for generations to come.
RIP Marion Cunningham.