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Pizza for Sunday Dinner?

April 21, 2013
Sunday Night Dinner 1960

Sunday Night Dinner, circa 1960

When I was growing up, our family ate dinner in the dining room (we didn’t have an eat-in kitchen), at 5:30 every night. My father was a meat and potatoes kind of guy; he worked hard and looked forward to enjoying a hearty meal at the end of the day. My mother prepared fairly basic but tasty meals: pork chops, chicken breasts, sausage, meatloaf, or roast beef accompanied by potatoes (boiled, mashed, baked or fried), and some type of canned or fresh in-season vegetable (peas, wax or green beans, corn, carrots).  Occasionally we’d have one of my favourite dinners – macaroni and cheese or spaghetti with meat sauce – as an economical ‘treat’. And while we ate like this pretty much every night, Sunday dinners were always a little ‘extra special’ – there might be a half a grapefruit to start, or gravy for the potatoes, or hot Pillsbury rolls with butter on the side, and there was always dessert (generally ice cream, or fruit cocktail, or a slice of apple pie).

Romantic Dinner For Two

Romantic Dinner For Two: Son #2 enjoying french fries w/ketchup!

When I got married (the first time, back in the 70s), I started out cooking the same kinds of meals my mother had made, although I gradually discovered – to my delight – that there were such wondrous things as boneless pork chops and chicken breasts, and frozen vegetables that tasted almost fresh, and that hamburgers cooked on a barbecue were far superior to ones fried to a crisp on top of the stove. After my boys were born, I learned to experiment a little – adding dishes like homemade chicken nuggets, tacos and fajitas, lasagna, and pepperoni casserole to the menu. I was never a particularly ‘adventurous’ cook, but I experimented with various recipes I found in magazines and cookbooks, and expanded my repertoire according to growing and changing tastes all around. And despite the fact that – for several years – son #2 was adamant that potatoes and ketchup were the only ‘vegetables’ he needed to eat, I managed to vary the dinner menu sufficiently to ensure the food I put on the table was both nutritious and tasty (and in his teens, son #2 became interested in the goings-on in the kitchen, learned a thing or two from me, and went on to work as a cook – with his own catalogue of delicious recipes – for a number of years).  But all through their growing up years, Sunday night dinner was always ‘extra special’ – that was a tradition that just seemed ‘right’ to me.

Schnitzel DinnerFast forward to 2013 and there’s just my (second) husband and me sitting down at the table for dinner every night. Fortunately (for me) he’s not a fussy eater, and he’s always appreciative of whatever I put on the table. It took me quite a while to learn to cook for ‘just two people’ but we now have fewer leftovers in the fridge (meaning fewer ‘clean-out-the-fridge-night’ dinners), and I’ve mastered a couple of Hungarian dishes especially for him.  We have adopted a few new ‘routines’ as well (for example, Fridays are always sandwich and salad nights – in front of the fireplace in winter; out on the deck in the summer), and dinnertime varies depending on his teaching schedule. The one thing I haven’t let go of, however, is ‘fancy’ Sunday night dinners – I still feel compelled to cook a roast, stuff and bake some pork tenderloin, or fry up some schnitzel, or have him barbecue a steak or some pork chops or ribs (all accompanied by the requisite potatoes, vegetables and something sweet for dessert). And while my husband (as mentioned earlier) is always appreciative, he has (occasionally) asked on a Sunday eve, “Why can’t we just have pizza tonight?”

Pepperoni PizzaNow, I do make a particularly delicious homemade pizza (which probably takes about as much time – or maybe more – to prepare as a full roast beef dinner), but that’s not really what he’s talking about. Instead, he means either picking up a ‘take home and bake’ pizza from the nearby independent grocery story (at $9.99 for an extra large, thin-crust pie with loads of pepperoni, it’s not only a great deal, it’s exceptionally tasty) or tossing a frozen pizza (which I keep on hand for ‘emergencies’ – i.e., when I go out and leave him home alone to make his own dinner) in the oven.  And while I find pizza occasionally acceptable on just about any other day of the week (and, honestly, my husband would eat pizza EVERY night if he could), I just can’t bring myself to accept it as Sunday night dinner.

Sunday Night DinnerI suppose it has something to do with tradition – multi-course Sunday night dinners have been a ritual for almost 60 years of my life, and giving them up just doesn’t sit well with me (I did consider trying – just once – serving pizza on the good china, with candles on the table and a glass of wine on hand, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it). Perhaps it has to do with memories of my childhood, or maybe it’s just an ingrained, long-standing habit, but I’m not ready to stop serving special Sunday night dinners, even now that I’m on … the other side of 55.

Dined Well Quote

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6 Comments
  1. April 26, 2013 4:42 pm

    Gotta love Virginia Woolf’s quote! Our Sunday dinner was always served about 2 p.m. and hardly ever varied from my mother’s incredible fried chicken ( she was a Kentucky girl), mashed potatoes with cream gravy, peas, mile-high biscuits and a salad. Now, of course, we try to stay away from fried foods, but what I wouldn’t give to have some of my mom’s chicken. I never did learn to make it as good as she.

    • April 26, 2013 4:48 pm

      I feel that way about my mother’s gravy – try as I might, I could never make it the way she did (mine is usually lumpy!)

  2. April 22, 2013 11:49 pm

    I love tradition!

    • April 23, 2013 8:03 am

      We’ve lost a lot of traditions over the years; I guess I’m not willing to give them ALL up yet!

      Margo

  3. April 21, 2013 8:06 pm

    After reading this – I want pizza for dinner! We had very excellent home made mac and cheese last night (and ham), but all my mouth can think of now is pizza!

    • April 21, 2013 10:10 pm

      Looks like I’ll have to send my husband to your house for dinner (mac and cheese … mmmmm … still one of my favourites!)

      Margo

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