For most families, long gone are the days of dinner as a family. For some it’s not practical, for others it’s not possible and for others it’s simply not desirable. But the English have a great tradition that Americans haven’t quite mastered yet. Yes, we Americans get together around the table for dinner, but in England, the Sunday Roast is an institution. It’s like a veritable Thanksgiving every week. And that’s a tradition I can get behind.
When we were living in England, we were lucky to have Andy’s maternal grandparents, Les and Muriel Mayhew, just up the street from us. And Nanny cooks a mean roast. Although props must be given to Grandad, as he does all the vegetable peeling.
In the meat department there’s roast lamb, pork, beef or chicken (lamb is my fave). And we generally have all of the following vegetables: peas, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, roast potatoes, “cheesy leeks” (Nanny’s specialty) and on special holidays like Christmas and Easter, there are ‘extras’ like pigs-in-a-blanket and stuffing (I think Sharon could write a whole book on her love for stuffing).
It takes Nanny and Grandad all day to prepare a roast dinner. Granted, they are in their 80s, but regardless of age, this meal is a labor of love. More than a half dozen vegetables chopped, peeled and cooked, meat slow-cooked in the oven all day, potatoes roasted to perfection, plates warmed, a table meticulously set. Nanny even has a ‘Hostess’, a heated trolley where you put all the food that’s been cooked. As each vegetable or side dish is ready, it goes in the Hostess, keeping everything at a perfect temperature until you’re ready to eat. And when you go back for seconds (and we do), the food is still steaming hot.
The whole tradition is great—not just the meal, but the day spent together. Arriving at Nanny and Grandad’s at 11 am, we don’t generally go home until 4 pm. We need time for our food to digest, at which point we move to the living room to share the most recent news and gossip while we watch the rugby or football (Nanny wouldn’t miss a game). As Andy and I prepare to move back to the States, this is one tradition I’m certainly taking with me. Thanksgiving shouldn’t be a family meal reserved for the fourth Thursday in November, it should be a weekly family tradition.