The 80’s. My American versus Foreign Table ( excerpts of Convivio chapter )

One of the major differences I noted when living in France and Italy, food culture nations, is how the public before purchasing food to be consumed, often questioned what is in  it?  How it was made? Who made it? When was it made?  Where was it made? This is not common practice in America or maybe it would be if babies could talk.

f in k 1

In Europe children often shop when possible with their parents and gain an understanding of products, pricing and the history of the item which  are important factors that could  help children seek quality in their choices.

kids making gnocchi (2)

In many  foreign homes children are in the kitchen observing and often working together to help prepare foods  with family members. This can be beneficial in many ways.  The kitchen should be the center of home life. Cooking teaches children civility, table manners, what is in the food, as well as practical skills to use later in life. Households that have lost the soul of cooking miss out on the thrill of all senses in play to enjoy a daily necessity as it becomes a daily pleasure. How often does one smell anything appetizing in a fast-food establishment or a school cafeteria that outsources other than that familiar smell of reheated frying oil?

f in k 10

Kids can learn to cook real food, not just cookies.

f in k 4 (1)


Cousins making sushi for their parents.

Cousins making sushi

kids making gnocchi (1)

Mother and my sister teaching the Brownie class how to make gnocchi. They all took a bag home to cook for their family. Now that they know how to make them they are all hooked on eating gnocchi.


Kids making foccaccia

Kids making foccaccia

kids making focaccia

Italian mothers helping their children to make their own foccaccia.












Mom said  if you like to eat them, lets learn to clean them.  After cleaning it was time to cook those creatures, tentacles and all. For the first time the boys even ate the tentacles they cleaned.

f in k 6 (2) 2nd f in k 6 (2) 1st f in k 6 (1)


f in k 9

A child exposed to traditional foods that are made to satisfy and not just stimulate, may be a child less affected by the billions spent advertising small amounts of poison to add to appearance, prevent putrefaction, and be disguised as nourishment.

f in k 4 (2)

I realize the time factor and other priorities leave little time for children to experience preparing foods in the family kitchen. But there is a lot to be learned and shared if one could find the time, even if on a weekend day. It has been proven that children that have this experience, as do many ethnic societies, are more apt to seek quality with a better understanding of foods and less likely to be tempted by fast food establishments. I believe that the road to  healthier nation is the family meal and table. With food culture at home, children are most likely to make better choices of food when  out of the home.

 summer 2009 494

Unfortunately our  lifestyle in America has created kind of a  hostile environment for food and   nutrition  with an  excess of ready calories available and unfavorable choices made when genuine foods are not a priority or  not available. To quote Joel Fuhrman, author of Eat to Live, who coined the word “nutritarian,” referring to food choices stated, “The American diet could not be more effective in generating heart disease if we designed it for that purpose.” How sad In America that also time in the kitchen does not seem to be a priority. Besides the benefits of having quality time preparing foods together, it can be a most enlightening experience for family bonding and a healthier diet.  Just remember to also  have fun in the kitchen. That always brings everyone back into the kitchen, the heart of the home.

 f in k 8 (1)

Homemade pasta made with organic beets, no dyes or preservatives.   Yikes! Wondering if they served them.

Homemade pasta made with organic beets, no dyes or preservatives. Yikes! Wondering if they served them.

f in k 10 (2)

Charlotta wants to come back for more fun in the kitchen.

they all want to come back


With the arrival of family members joining me in Italy  for the summer, I shall  retire from blogging until September.

I would appreciate hearing from my readers as to which of the three subject matters they prefer: 1 artisans ( an educational subject matter); 2. fun at the villa (true international humorous experiences) or 3. Convivio ( a family legacy of an Italian-American’s experience comparing table life).


One thought on “The 80’s. My American versus Foreign Table ( excerpts of Convivio chapter )

  1. Hi Lucy, I love them all. You do a great job with words and photos! Enjoy your family. I have been happily saturated with mine since I returned from a fabulous, but busy trip to Europe. I had forgotten how pretty Spain is but I still love Switzerland and Italy.

    Becky and the 4 kids arrived 2 weeks ago to stay with me while they looked for a house to rent. Victor has accepted a great job with Qualcom in San Diego. I have i nflated and deflated mattresses all over the place from Jim’s study to the kitchen. Becky had warned the kids about their “wicked grandmother”, and they all behaved beautifully.

    House hunting was a nightmare. Most rentals have been trashed by former tenants, or foreclosed owners. She found one near Anaheim Hills that had been totally redone. After major problems dealing with a Chinese owner in China, and as I was paying to settle them back here, he needed my name. However, for protection reasons my trust does not carry my name, and I have no money in my name. Try explaining that to  Chinese man who does not speak English, and is only available by phone between 5:00 and 6;00 pm every day!!!!!!

    She took the two little kids back to Fairfield last Saturday, leaving Kolby and Jamie with me. I have had a great week with them. Jamie is in summer school at Carden Hall, to make up for the lost year in a dreadful public school in Fairfield. Kolby is into computers and also willing to work for a dollar an hour. He is learning to garden, and do some housework!!!!

    Becky finally got the keys to the house on Thursday, and left Fairfield with the removal van. Victor is concluding the job with PG and E. of course she forgot to leave out pillows and blankets to camp in the new house house. That tried my patience, after I have paid for the move back, and the deposit and August’s rent on the house. Heaven knows how they are coping, but I had to make it clear that I have gone above and beyond and I am signing off. They can sleep on the floor, and maybe will learn to plan better.  Victor has to plan for his family’s welfare. She picked up the older two last night, for the weekend. Kolby and Jammie will be back on Sunday in time for Jamie to go to school on Monday.

    Last night Becky called me to tell me what a neighbor  had disclosed about the house. It is ten years old and had been empty for a year when the owner returned to China. He had no plans to rent it. Last summer a group of teenagers broke in, and partied and destroyed the home. Before they left they plugged up the toilets and drains, and turned on all the faucets in the house. A few day later this neighbor noticed water pouring out of the first floor windows. It has taken a year to restore the home. Now Becky is worried about fires in the dried out outlets simmering in the walls, and of course mold.

    Her realtor is contacting an attorney today and Becky has called the city manager. Stay tuned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I have had a great summer around all this, with some lovely neighborhood dinner parties. I have also remodeled the garbage area, recovered my sofa and window seat.

    My computer was badly hacked again, and again it was Yahoo’s problem. I am now in a cloud, whatever that is!!!!

    Pleas use this new e-mail address.

    Love to you all. Mary

      Mary Roosevelt 333

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