Meeting new family can be challenging. What do you talk about? There is no shared history. And current events being what they are, no one is really in a hurry to start in on the news. The first black president has moved on to greener pastures and his successor is continually mired in a scandal a week while simultaneously inspiring America’s most racist impulses.
So you’re left with brief periods of small talk – the weather, traffic, the few friends you may have in common (which you really don’t) and then silences punctuated by sighing and staring off into the middle distance.
And then the meal starts. Tongues loosen, shirt sleeves roll up, collars unbutton and the stories flow. By the time the pots and pans are done, everyone is laughing and backslapping and trading phone numbers. Good food has that effect. Raises blood sugar and communal spirit. Puts people at ease. Sets everyone on a common path.
My great aunt had such a meal today with a branch of her family I know little to nothing about. And I’m still not certain of the connection. But who cares? We have now shared food and have hopefully started our own history.