From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, September 17, 2015
For one reason or another, Jonna had come to the dining room table a little later than her siblings on this particular evening. She had felt a weird vibe, and she also thought she’d heard whispering and laughter before she entered the room. She knew that something was going on, but she just couldn’t put her finger on it. Her siblings were being far too nice to her — clearly not normal behavior.
She sat down at her usual spot at the table as her mom dished out a plate for her: the famous biscuits covered with chip beef and gravy (also know as SOS). As she lifted the fork to her mouth, she noticed that no one else at the table was eating, instead staring with anticipation as she took a full bite of her mom’s fall comfort food into her mouth.
The table grew silent. Jonna chewed. Suddenly, her face froze like a statue! Then, with a dramatic “yuck!” she spit the food back onto her plate. The room exploded with laughter.
What the youngest sister didn’t know (but everyone else did) was that their mom had accidentally substituted condensed milk for evaporated milk! The result was an ultra-sweet, mouth-puckering mess! It was a story worth telling for years as the family grew up.
The weather has started to move toward a cooler season, which means comfort food! In our household, Falcon Football and soccer have made sitting down for family dinners a little difficult. Many nights throughout the week we have our youngest boy practicing football starting at 5 p.m. and our oldest ending at 9 p.m. The crockpot and pre-made Costco dinners are answers to a mom’s prayers!
I’m sure we’re a lot like you; with school just starting back up, we’re trying to get some sense of order back into our family dinners. It’s hard, but we’re still trying to figure out how to sit down together as a family.
My oldest daughter, Abbey, doesn’t think it’s a dinner unless we are all together at the table. I am convinced she is right. There is a lot of value to sitting down together as a family and to checking in with each other about how our days were spent. It’s so important. We need the food, sure … but the need to engage with each other is even more important.
When I think of my time growing up and the changing of this season — football nights and comfort foods — I think of goulash, pork roast, mac and cheese and chip beef and gravy. My mom would always have something prepared for us on those hard-to-plan fall evenings. It was good food for growing kids. As for that chip beef and gravy, we really loved that stuff. It was a regular dinner in my house growing up. My sister, Jonna, might have eaten it for the last time that night, but it still stands out in my mind as a reminder of good laughs with family. Every fall, I love to remember the great times we had growing up together. It makes creating new memories around our table even sweeter.
Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princess; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.