When we asked you to share your stories of family and food, we thought we’d received a few cryptic notes and hastily scratched recipes.
What we never expected were beautiful essays full of tender, funny, and sometimes heartbreaking moments spent sharing food with family and friends. And so we are honored to present the winners of the Family Dinner Project, to be served and enjoyed this fall and winter at Nora’s Table:
December 3: “An Ethiopian Dinner with our New Family” by Lisa Mullis. Lisa tells the story of their family’s first dinner together in a restaurant in Addis Ababa, after waiting for three years to adopt their son and daughter.
December 17: “Mrs. Chaing and THE COOKBOOK” by Nancy Roach. A Chinese cookbook bought off a book sale table in 1980 changed everything for Nancy, Greg, and their now-grown children.
January 14: “An afternoon Quail Hunt in the Florida Panhandle” by David Hanson. A young man from the Atlanta suburbs goes hunting with a good friend who teaches him how to honor simple foods.
January 28: “My Mom, her Wake, and the Giant Sub Sandwich” by Sarah Sullivan. Since Sarah’s mom died unexpectedly last May, Sarah has spent hours poring over her cookbooks, remembering delicious family meals, and a cook who lived by the maxim, “enjoy every sandwich.”
February 18: “Scraping Together Thursday Dinner in Natchez, Mississippi” by Linda Floyd. There was always just enough on the table in Linda’s Mississippi childhood, but her richest memory is of the poorest night of the week.
March 4: “Yours, Mine and Ours: A Blended Family Dinner in Trout Lake” by Kira Fogarty. What happens when two couples who love and share their kids, move to the same community just to farm, preserve, cook and eat together.
Each winning family will be joining us as our guests on the night their family dinner is served. And you can join in. Please reserve in advance. Here are the details of our first dinner:
An Ethiopian Dinner with our New Family
Please join us and the Mullis Family on December 3 for this Ethiopian feast:
Chicken doro wat
Shiro (an African-style hummus)
Injera (grilled teff bread)
Turkish coffee, popcorn (an Ethiopian tradition) and pastry
Price per person: $25
Please reserve now, for any time you wish between 5:00 pm and 9:00 pm on Wednesday, December 3. Reservations will be accepted through Monday, December 1, and will be held with a credit card number.
And here’s Lisa’s essay about her wonderful first family dinner:
“My family’s most special and memorable dinner occurred on November 11, 2013, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
That morning, after a nearly three year long journey, my husband Brian and I left our adoption agency’s care center in Addis with our two children fully and finally in our custody. It was an entirely surreal moment to realize that we were now officially together as family, months and months of anxious waiting over.
The first thing we did after we left the care center was to go out to eat. This would have been entirely novel for our children as only our oldest, then five years old, had ever been at a restaurant and only one time that we’re aware of. The act of sharing our first meal together was so much more than gaining sustenance; it was the ageless ritual of sharing food together to mark the beginning of new relationships.
Ethiopia is a melting pot of cultures, and the only African country to have never ceded its independence since its formation. Ethiopian food is a fusion of Indian, African, European and Muslim dishes. It’s delicious! For our first meal together we had doro wat, tibs, shiro and of course injera.
It may seem surprising that in the year since our kids have been home, we have not had any Ethiopian food other than some shiro (which I really goofed up which probably explains the lack of further forays). Our son Kylan really misses injera. Our daughter Lotti LOVES hummus which is a close relation to shiro (and also my favorite Ethiopian dish). Otherwise both our children really enjoy typical American fare; if they were in charge, pizza would be on the menu every night. We do keep a steady supply of Ethiopian coffee in the cupboard … the best is Tamoca … and a bottle of berbere on the counter—two staples of Ethiopian food culture.
Another thing to note is that coffee is almost always served with popcorn, both during a formal coffee ceremony (which happens frequently to mark special occasions and holidays) and after a meal at a restaurant.
The Family Dinner Project would be a great opportunity for our kids to get a taste of home in their new one.”
Thanksgiving: Another chance for family dinner
Not with us, though. You’re on your own, with the help of your Aunt Sylvia who insists on rolls (“Couldn’t you just butter your stuffing, Aunt Sylvia?”) and Cousin Richard who brings cranberry sausage relish (old family recipe). But it’s a great story, no?
There’s plenty of hubbba-hubbas right now for businesses that refuse to be open for Thanksgiving. Heck, we’ve never been open for Thanksgiving for ten years, with the exception of two years at Viento when we did a free community dinner.
We will be home with our friends and families, and a few who are neither (yet) but have nowhere else to go.
We’ll see you on Friday morning for breakfast though, and we promise: No turkey and stuffing frittatas. We will have outstanding house-made eggnog, and delicious pumpkin pancakes with orange butter. And after you and yours enjoy that breakfast, we hope you will wander through downtown Hood River, including all the side streets (hint: that’s where the chocolate is) and shop here at home. There’s so little joy in fighting the crowds in an urban parking lot. Remember why you are here.