Posted by: Peadar Ban | December 3, 2010

A Simple Meal

Years ago I started an e-mail list with that name, “A Simple Meal”.  It’s kind of moribund.  Perhaps my wife and I are the only members.  I don’t know.  I think about it from time to time when I cook something I think is both well done and easy to prepare.  I like to cook, and I like to share what I do cook; making every meal a feast in some way, not only of food but of company.

Last Saturday I spent the day with my fourteen year old grand son, Joseph while Mom and Dad did some Christmas shopping.  One of the things I learned during our time together is that he likes to cook.  He mentioned that he’d created a simple recipe for pasta, asking if I’d like him to prepare it for our supper.  I was eager, especially since he used the word “simple” .  When the time came, he allowed me to chop some onions and garlic and fill a pot with water for the pasta.

As he went about his work I watched.  He moved confidently from place to place; from chopping board, to saute pan, to heating pot.  There was no wasted movement, and I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a young fellow with no little talent at this.  At one point he asked me for some herbs.   Which ones I wondered to him. “What you have will do,” he said.  “This is a simple meal.”  That word again!  I smiled and went outside to get him a couple of sage leaves.  Our parsley was inside already, in the living room, and I snipped a stalk or two on my way past.  I quickly chopped them and dropped them into the caramelizing  onions and garlic, adding their lovely odors to the kitchen smells.  Did I mention the kitchen just now?  Adding the smells to the whole house!

“Should I grate some cheese,” I asked.  “Oh, yeah,” he replied, stirring the onions and herbs slowly transluciscizing  (a brand new word!) in the pan.  “I had forgotten the cheese.”  I grated some Parmesan.  By that time the pasta was ready.  I drained it and, while Joey watched, added it to the pan, mixed well and served it with some warm bread.  I had a glass of pinot and he had a Mountain Dew.  Kathy joined us and pronounced it good.

When Mariellen came home later on, she finished the left overs and was both happy and thankful for Joe’s inspiration.

As I sat at the table I, too, was happy and thankful, for Joe’s inspiration and for the pleasure of his company; a quiet fellow who uncovered something very nice for his Sean Athair on the day we spent together.  The meal was much, much more than the few ingredients might lead one to believe, and I couldn’t help reflecting that there were more than two in the kitchen, more than three at the table and more than one finishing the leftovers.

“Come down Zaccheus!  I mean to dine with you this evening.”


  1. Very nice day, I’m sure with your grandson. Very nice story, also. Thank you!!!

    • It’s all about creating memories, for him, for me, for us.

  2. Kind of blissful Peadar, though I ought to be writing, not reading. A state of simple delight might not be the worst way to begin the day’s clerical duties. Nice too, that the talent does go from generation to generation. A very Irish gift, I think..

    • He cooks, Julia writes, Mary reads everything she can get her hands on and watches.

  3. I just now got to reading this. Thanks for letting me into your kitchen. Sorry I couldn’t have had a taste myself–although I kind of feel like I did!

    • Someday, God willing, we’ll meet and I’ll cook it for you.


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