Last week's spontaneous lunch at my neighbor's house prompted this post. Here in the German part of Switzerland, it's as if time stood still. School children and husbands come home to a hot lunch. This tradition is a wonderful one, as it brings families together around a table, and parents can provide a balanced meal in the middle of the day.
There is something comforting about walking by an open window around 11 a.m. and detecting the evidence of a stew cooking. The downside is that someone has to stay home and cook that meal--every single day. And if that person has a job other than being a housewife, this duty can become a burden.
So lunch at at my neighbor's went something like this. We were seated around the table, the wife, her husband and their two foster children. My two children were there as well, as they eat there twice a week, allowing me extra time to write.
It all started out with a simple green salad with tomatoes and a yogurt dressing, followed by a main dish of 'rösti' (pan-fried potatoes) with veal in a light cream sauce. Dessert was a plate of cut-up ripe nectarines and miniature chocolate chip cookies followed by coffee. As it was a weekday, everyone drank water. Conversation was pleasant and a calmness reigned.
At 1:15 p.m. the husband got up, shook hands, went to the bathroom to brush his teeth, and returned to work. The older children went back to school, while the younger ones stayed with the wife to start their homework.