Dad cooked breakfast a lot when I was growing up. Pancakes were the order of the day, but no matter what he was making the meal usually included a little baloney, and I don’t mean the sandwich meat.
Cooking seemed to put dad in the mood for stories, some about his days in the army, some about the dubious adventures he and his brothers got into when they were young. As the syrup and butter went on the pancakes, so the exaggeration and embroidery built these stories up to Paul Bunyan proportions.
I later figured out dad’s tall tales were told mostly to entertain the young kid staring at him from the table – me. But also this was a form of bonding. My dad was never one to gush over heart-to-heart chats. But a social setting always got him going, and even just talking over a meal, the most natural thing in the world, propped open the door for better father-and-son time.
Dad shared best when a third party was involved, and often food could fill that role.
This brings us to Father's Day this weekend. Now Mother’s Day gets all the press, and restaurants are slammed. Father’s Day is a different story. On her day mom gets a fancy brunch; dad might get another necktie.
In my experience, though, it’s hard to get much of a conversation flowing around a necktie. Around a table is a lot easier. Picking up a late reservation for Father’s Day isn’t so hard, but then maybe casual settings are better for your pop too. And this table doesn’t even have to be in a restaurant.
After all, Louisiana men cook like nobody’s business. So, if your dad is at his best around the smoker or the grill or the seafood boiling pot, then let him do his thing. Assist or admire from a safe distance as your own experience with dad’s cooking dictates – the point is to be there with him when he’s at his ease and in his element.
And if your dad is anything like mine, you probably shouldn’t believe all the stories that come out at times like this. But as times go on, I bet you’ll savor them.