As a weekend wanes and Sunday afternoon rolls around, and we’re all home and all in town-one might hear “Who gets the king chair?” It is a phrase that marks an occasion our family calls “Sunday Lunch“. For as long as I can remember, and for decades before as told to me, my maternal Mississippi family has gathered like clockwork for lunch on Sundays.
Ours is a guarded weekly tradition of lively family togetherness and culinary celebration held primarily at my childhood home. My mother is a fabulous gourmet, and in the confines of her kitchen she lives out her other life as Head Chef extraordinaire!
Her two favorite tasters and occasional sous chefs are her grandsons, my two little boys.
Our Nashville family gathers almost every Sunday for the feast. It is a multi generational stage for exciting announcements, funny antics, debate of various topics. An observation made in 1943 by sociologist James Bossard inspired the famous Norman Rockwell illustration of an American family around the Thanksgiving table, Freedom from Want. Bossard says “it is at the dining table, and particularly at dinner time, that the family is apt to be at its greatest ease” The American tradition of a Sunday supper was adopted from the more formal European practice. Victorian parents used family mealtimes to educate their children on religion, conversation and table manners. At our table in 2018 we follow a less structured format of conversation, allowing the children to freely participate. We add details that play to childlike sensibilities. Seasonal table settings, and creative appetizer and meal presentation are opportunities to mix it up and make it fun! And other than the understood practice of good etiquette there is only one rule-NO TECH DEVICES AT THE TABLE.
The best seat at the table is the “king chair” as it is affectionately known, but properly called a Bishops chair. And for this honor we rotate. Birthdays, anniversaries, good grades, special achievements, Between the lot of us on any given Sunday there is someone deserving of the spot and the praise which accompanies:) The children or Pop Pop usually give the blessing, and we linger over coffee and dessert. The unspoken guideline observed by all is that the time we spend together each Sunday is deserving of priority status, off limits to most other invitations. We do this for each other and because we think it is worth it to preserve the tradition for generations to come. Sunday Lunch is is food for the body and soul!