Today was a full-on sprint from the moment the alarm rang this morning. I dashed out of the office this evening running late for an event to which another doctor invited me. On my four-minute commute home, I called to notify my colleague that I would be there about half an hour later than planned. While I pride myself on timeliness, I also triage extraordinarily well. Since dinner trumps networking, I kissed the girls on the head on the way to the kitchen and immediately set to work. Approximately sixteen minutes elapsed between pulling in the driveway and placing dinner on the table. Scout walked downstairs asking, “What smells so good?” There is a reason that kid is known far and wide for her positivity!
The fare du jour was organic chicken breasts sautéed in olive oil, broccoli florets steamed in the microwave and a slice of whole grain toast with a teaspoon of butter. Seriously, that was dinner. It took just over fifteen minutes to get on the table. I have found that it takes less time to cook something simple, yet uninspired than it does to wait for a pizza delivery or go to a fast food place. Although I wasn’t eating with the kids, I sat with them as they ate, and we discussed the day. We also discussed this blog post. They unanimously agreed that it is a hopelessly uninspired topic, much like their dinner, and that no sensible human will bother reading it. That probably means I should stop obsessing over grammar.
Earlier today, a patient remarked that one of his issues with cooking at home is boredom from the repetition of preparing simple foods. My response to this common complaint surprises some people. Most of your food should be boring. It is which foods you repeat and how you eat them that matters. Sitting down to the same handful of dinners over and over again, week after week, is perfectly acceptable. The value is in the act of sitting down together over something balanced and nourishing. It is the coming together in whatever form your family unit takes. The importance of a meal is the sharing of both nutrition and community.
Regarding the content, not every dinner need be a culinary masterpiece. Mundane but wholesome meals should be the rule rather than the exception. This sounds contradictory coming from a foodie that cherishes the first mouthful of extraordinary food. I thrive on the beauty of perfectly balanced flavors presented in novel preparations. I also thrive on steamed broccoli and sautéed chicken breast. It is a dinner that I can prepare and serve with the cadence of our busy household. Thus, it is a work of art in its own right—a work of art that packs 10 grams of fiber and over 30 grams of protein into 300 calories. The most important job in my life is to attend to the wellness of my children. I am the steward of their health. I am also the proud mother of a ten-year-old girl who bounds down the stairs while complementing the scent of broccoli. I am overwhelmingly grateful for each moment spent with my tribe over these uninspired dinners.