Modern Living and the Ties that Bind Us

This past Mother’s Day, I rebelled and reveled at slowly evolving family habits, common signs of our age.  Disney’s 1980’s home of the future is a reality in many ways. You press a button and two minutes later voila! you have dinner for 30 people. You turn on a monitor and sit down before it and you are having a face to face conversation a world away. On a single tv you can watch at the same time in different squares different programs. Your office and connectivity has you always here and there at once without need to have teleported.

As I mentioned, this Mother’s day I rebelled. I did so by declining to be treated to "holiday meal" at a restaurant.  This may not sound very rebellious or dramatic but as I look back "eating out" has been an ever growing trend a definite change from my child recollections and what is now customary. Remember easter brunch prior to the 80’s?  In my family it was a family feast at someone’s house.  Baking and cooking were part of the Easter vigil. Nowadays, Easter celebration is a hotel all you can eat brunch. 

Most wives see this as an improvement but changing traditions are usually a mixed bag of good and bad.  On this one, I am partly old-fashioned.

The fast paced lifestyle of today has resulted in a generation of women who feel tired and overwhelmed. Women who have lost the pleasure of cooking. These are the generation of women over 50 that do not have the perks of their mother’s or even that they enjoyed back in the 80’s.  When things were cooked and recipe’s were important, those who cooked were the recipient of praise and gratitude. Food was the centerpeice of every gathering.  If you wanted to find the happening place it was in the kitchen. 

Nowadays, the kitchen is a lonely place for many. Attentions are pulled into many directions away from the kitchen. Techno-gadgets divide the crowd into many pockets of activity. Recipe’s and cooking is not as revered, downgraded to an oldfashioned hassle.

I ask my generation and the generation above why not cook and chorus of answers varies between " why bother? It’s too much hassle", "I don’t know how to cook for so many people" or simply "I don’t cook."  So who’s in the kitchen? Sam, Costco, Giovanna’s catered delights and whoever is pressing the button to heat it all up. 

On one hand, my generation put aside the kitchen because it was more common for both parents to be working and something had to give way. On the other hand, we have gotten used to thinking why do it the hard way if there is a new shortcut, a new technology that simplifies life, a new globalized solution that requires you to drive a block and find the world at your finger tips… and if it is easy it is good.

Oftentimes what we have lost is quality and inspiration. As an artist,l ife without inspiration is not worth living. As an anthropologist, I do love having the world at my fingertips and discovering aspects of it a block away. This mother’s day I wanted to celebrate my memory of "Mom’s cooking for the family ."  My approach to cooking met the global economy half-way.  I walked into Costco and I was inspired.  I found the raw ingredients and accents I needed. Spicy baby bell peppers filled with cream cheese were a delicious treat. I thank modern day shopping for providing the shortcuts but I was ready to have it all fit together with a good dose of love and inspiration.

I gladly stayed in the kitchen and along with my husband and my brother we cooked up a delicious, simple and nice looking dinner, while the other moms hung out in and around the pool.

After dinner we sat around my brother’s IMac which he connected at the kitchen table and called my sister in Rhode Island.  I reveled at having my 93 year old grandmother videoconferencing, greeting my sister and her daughters over 5,000 miles away.  Though my grandma does not speak up these days, her great granddaughters were able to hear and see her.  I doubt my grandma fully understood how all this was possible but she was happy to benefit from today’s technology.

A few days later my Mother’s Day gift arrived. My brother had also arrived a day earlier, having traveled from Germany with his wife. Geeky as I am, I was excited to show him my tablet pc. He was eager to convince me to join the family and hook up on Skype to do Saturday morning video-conferencing with them. Having enjoyed seeing my grandmother use Skype I might as well. Our Basque friends have sent us a pc camera hoping we’d use it to call them. We already have a VoIP phone. Friends and family seem to be eagerly waiting for me online, Skype here I come.