Food and love.
I love watching my wife get excited about lunches she hosts at home. She puts her total being into it. She prepares and cooks food that is so good everyone raves about it. The glasses and plates are set on the table neatly. The wine, coffee, soft drinks, water and ice are by the side table. The dining area is spruced up so prettily and is ready to receive visitors.
She has done this countless of times for our friends and relatives. While she may complain that she is stressed, tired and that she has so little time to prepare before the guests arrive, everything gets done and ready on time.
Last Wednesday, she invited eight girl friends whom we've known for years, some for over four decades long. Everyone brought a dish. What a glorious, noisy, fun lunch it was. The conversation was lively, non-stop and these women talked about a whole range of topics. I could see them enjoying the food while laughing, teasing, sharing stories and mild chismis about people they knew.
They sat down to eat lunch around 2 p.m. I left for the gym past 4 p.m. By the time I got back close to 7 p.m., they were still around the table talking with the same gusto and energy. Lydia was ready to open and distribute the packed take-home food she gave everyone if they were going to stay for dinner. They left soon after. It was quite a lunch. Lydia was happy.
Almost every day last week, Lydia went out to lunch with different groups of friends. It started last Tuesday with her high school classmates from St. Bridget's School. Last Friday, it was with the wives of my sibs who are in town. Today, we join her family for Sunday lunch.
In Lydia's family, It is an understatement to say that food is important. Everything is centered around meals on the dinner table. There is always lots of food. When I say lots, I mean LOTS!
We are continually munching on something while talking. Before meals, there are chips, peanuts, fruits and other chichiria on the table. Then there is the big meal with about four to five viands and rice. After the lunch, desserts of chocolates, fried bananas, cakes, cherries (when in season) are served. Coffee follows. Then more chichiria is served. The table never runs out of food.
In my family, food takes second importance to singing, jokes, camaraderie, bonding, political talk and loud laughter. The food is never wanting but it is not as spectacular or as varied as my in-laws' banquets.
At dinners, the Paredeses end the night with singing and loud banter. In Lydia's family, they end the night still eating while conversing.
When we first got married, I always complained that she cooked too much that there were almost always leftovers. I thought it was wasteful. My mom always told me to finish the food on my plate.
For Lydia, cooking a lot is a natural thing. She used to tell me that a house must always have lots of food ready to feed its occupants and unexpected visitors who may show up. Food is always meant to be in big servings.
Her mother was the same way. They come from a family of 10 sibs. And my mother-in-law always liked to prepare for her children's friends who like hanging around their house after school. She could whip up a meal for her kids and about six to 10 friends who often suddenly showed up. She loved having visitors and feeding them.
I also come from a family of 10. But we were not fed as extravagantly. Mom had a smaller budget but she somehow always made sure everyone was fed. We ate smaller portions. We were fed enough and well, but not in any grandiose way. No 'unli' eating. And we ate breakfast, lunch and dinner on time.
My kids are more like Lydia's family regarding their eating habits. They eat when they feel like it. Meal times are flexible. They have snacks anytime they wish, often skipping a meal in the process.
I used to be so different. Like clockwork, I actually got hungry at around 12 noon, and 7 p.m. at night. I did not like munching anything an hour before I ate because I wanted to enjoy a full dinner.
I have somewhat adjusted since living in a home run by my wife for decades now. I get an occasional urge now and then and I raid the cookie jar between meals. Or I sit with her and eat chicharon anytime. I now also have the habit of eating dark chocolate an hour or two after meals.
But I still have to learn to appreciate coffee as much as she does. Or have that occasional glass of wine which she loves. I get tipsy and red too easily. She has a far more sophisticated palate than I do, I must admit.
When she is not here, I often find myself going back to my basic eating. Nothing fancy. Just regular food to tide me over. I am generally okay with that. But as I get older now, I notice I want more and more of the good stuff.
In a life that is shared with someone, couples defer to each other about who should be in charge of certain things. I take the lead in certain matters, but I definitely defer to Lydia on everything to do with food.
It has been said that a way to a man's heart is through his stomach. While there are many other things I like about her, I must also agree with this saying. And my stomach agrees as well
It so happens she likes cooking and I like eating!
I am so lucky we are a great match on this.