These are our favourite kind of Sundays. It is an occasion not only to share food but also our time, humour and the odd heated discussion! Last week, my daughter came to the table with some food facts she had read such as orange does not rhyme with any other word in the dictionary and strawberries are the only fruit with the seeds on the outside. My son then tried to argue that this was not the case, oh what joy!
On a more agreeable note, as a family of food lovers, we will often discuss the food on the table or which famous guests we would most like to invite to our home for lunch, with current favourites being Tom Hanks, Peter Kay and Raymond Blanc. Sometimes we debate the meaningful, occasionally we reminisce about family long since gone and often we discuss trivial news in our lives. It does seem to have an anchoring effect on the family and encourages us to commit to eating together when we can on weekdays. Sharing food at the table is a time when our kids get reliable access to us as parents and pick up informal but invaluable education.
Sunday lunch is at the heart of British food and a roast is hard to beat, particularly in the colder months when we all need a few extra calories. It may be a one pot chicken, rack of lamb or rolled pork, with beef sirloin, topside or rump being the most traditional of all. It is no surprise that the French call us ‘les rosbifs’. Typical accompaniments such as roast potatoes, gravy and fresh seasonal vegetables are hard to resist and of course, work well with any meat.
(Leftover meat, if there is any in our house, is almost tastier than that served at lunch itself. Sandwiches with pickle, creamy risottos or just peckish picking from under the foiled meat in the fridge is a favourite of mine.)
If preparing a starter, I tend to choose a light option to compliment the heavier main. A creamed soup such as watercress or wild mushroom works well or perhaps a tomato and goat’s cheese salad.
Puddings make most of us smile and when asked we can usually identify our favourite whether it be apple pie and ice-cream, sticky toffee pudding or our best loved poached fruit drizzled with cream.
Preparing a large Sunday meal can be time consuming but there is huge satisfaction not to mention pride in making it yourself and it will taste better. For most of us it is about managing the time we have available. If you are struggling for ideas you will find lots of inspiration in the recipe section of our website ranging from quick and simple to the more involved.
I have recently been reading a thought provoking book , “ My Last Supper, The Next Course” by Melanie Dunea in which more than 50 great chefs, including Albert Roux, Paul Bocuse and Marco Pierre White reveal what would be their last meal on Earth. They also disclose with whom and where they would most like to eat it. Browsing through, I was struck by how many opted for the simplest of meals, such as flavoursome steak and chips, macaroni cooked in milk, fruit crumble, pork meatballs or roast chicken. Heston Blumenthal chose Sunday roast enjoyed with a 1990 Chateauneuf-du-Pape, up a mountain with his nearest and dearest. Needless to say he would want to prepare this sumptuous meal himself but drew the line at washing up!
As you might expect, huge importance was placed on how and where the ingredients were sourced and how it was prepared. With whom they ate was upper most, the vast majority sharing with family and friends some including the family dog. Many chose to dine in their own homes.
As a home cook, I absolutely identify with many of these sentiments. Take the best, well sourced ingredients you can afford, cook them simply with care and attention and enjoy gorgeous food at your leisure with those you love most in the comfort of your own home. It really doesn’t get any better and will undoubtedly strengthen family ties.