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Nash, Edith / Practice the here and now: selected writings of Edith Nash

Nash, Edith
The dining room,   pp. 20-21

Page 20

The Dining Room20
 At the house in Oak Park where we grew up, the dining room was the most
important room of all, the setting for the most meaningful events. The room
was large and well-windowed. On the walls was a blue figured wallpaper, very
intricate design, with whirls and scrolls in a pale gold, giving a rich effect.
This is where it all happened—the serving and the stuffing of food
and drink, the arguments, the expectations and the disappointments, the competition
for the presidency of the table, the smashing and the force of parental authority.
 I found the succession of courses at the dinner table very depressing, and
they killed whatever appetite I had by that time of day. The food was gorgeous,
both well-bought and well-cooked, and there was a lot too much of it. We
had soup, always homemade, a roast or steak, potatoes, two vegetables, a
salad, and an elaborate desert. Everything was very nourishing, and the vegetables
were a glory of crispness and green color, long before people learned to
cook vegetables underdone. I know Paul introduced the cooking of vegetables
in the Chinese mode to our household. Meat was cooked slowly at a low temperature
after he got a pamphlet from the Government Printing Office that described
this method. During the season.- for shad we had it or whitefish every Friday
night, cooked perfectly in the broiler. Julia, who came every day all the
way from the south side to clean and do laundry at our house, had to stay
through dinner on the night we had fish to help the cook turn the fish over
on the broiler, since it took four hands.
 Paul and Walter never ate fish and rarely the vegetables or salads. They
ate rare beef and potatoes, in quantity. I cannot remember what Richard ate,
nor my parents. I was so reluctant to be hungry and to want all that food,
that in the afternoon I stopped at the -blind man's candy shop on Lake Street
and bought two Tangoes, my favorite candy bar with nuts and caramel inside
and chocolate outside, and ate them walking home. Then when dinner time came,
I sat at the table in the protection of my satisfied self, mildly nauseated,
watching the food come and go, and the family drama playing itself out.

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