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Dinner talk

(post, Kim Carlson)

Last night we ate something new that we all liked very much, a kind of "millet bowl": millet cooked in chicken broth; purple kale sautéed in shallots with thick balsamic drizzled on top; roasted Klamath pearl potatoes; and a poached egg, topped with grated Parmesan. 

It wasn't the food that was the best part of dinner though; it was the 45-minute discussion the four of us had after we'd pushed away our plates. The topic was race, prompted by incidences of racist behavior at our daughters' school. We didn't reach any solutions last night, but by bringing issues of race to the table (literally) we were able to bring words to something that none of us understands as well as we would like. 

I'm not going to suggest that such a conversation couldn't have happened elsewhere, or at another time during our day. (Indeed, this conversation must continue to happen everywhere, and as the mom in our family, I'm going to see that it does.) 

But there's something about dinner, about nourishment of both the body and the mind, that's unlike any other time and place. And if we make room for it, good things can happen.
I'm not saying it's always perfect: some nights our food leaves a lot to be desired; sometimes one of us is cross or edgy (which usually has a spillover effect). I have friends who tell me that dinner at their house growing up was always an hour of stress and strife, and that's part of the reason they find it difficult to enjoy it now. 

So maybe I'll edge away from any grand statements about dinner and just say this: Last night, ours was a good one. Isn't that something?