Around the Kitchen Table

By India Howell, Founder

Thanks to the recent leadership transition, I have more time (and energy) to spend late afternoons cooking, allowing me to launch the Mama India Dinner Party Series. A fun new twist on spending the evenings with my kids and it is so much fun! Yes, I have always eaten dinner with the kids living in my house, but now that most of these kids are away at college, I have more room around the table and am able to invite different age groups over from various houses for dinner a few times each week.

Growing up in a family where meal time was sacred, few things feel more like “family” than the simple act of sitting down and sharing a home cooked meal together. However, now I realize why my parents made eating together such a priority — it is amazing how much you can glean about where a kid is “at” over dinner. I am able to share special moments with my kids where they really open up and reveal all kinds of hopes, dreams and worries.

Early in my new Mama India Dinner Party Series, I learned that Geriki and Neema Safari had decided to run for Class President at Oldeani Secondary School. Next time they came to dinner, they had both won. Yes, this meant cookies with Nutella for desert to celebrate! I also discovered that the Chemistry teacher at Oldeani Secondary is a super-star who loves teaching so much that ALL of my kids now love Chemistry. And who knew that Sharifa was trying out being a vegetarian? Or that Helena had left the shy teenage girl years behind and has since become a great conversationalist? However, perhaps the most important thing I have learned is that if there is enough cheese acting as a disguise, I can get my kids of all ages to eat any kind of vegetable!

And now I must brag a bit. Without exception, after every one of these dinners all of the kids jump up to help do the dishes. Granted a few seem to have named themselves in charge of entertainment during this process rather than drying duty! We put on the music and gab, laugh and sing through the chore that ultimately does not seem like a chore at all because it is actually fun! After 15 years of barely boiling water, the idea of cooking for large groups of kids seemed daunting. But remembering that hungry teenagers will eat just about anything, combined now with the amazing memories I have already built with my kids during the Mama India Dinner Party Series, I can’t wait to have them all around the table again.