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Cayenne Pepper Makes Everything Better

Posted on: July 23rd, 2011 by Lauren

posted by Margaret

Every family has its own traditions and quirks, and I just remembered one about my family – when I was little, my dad used to put cayenne pepper on everything. Didn’t matter what it was…if he was eating it, you could bet that it was tinged with orange from a liberal sprinkling of cayenne pepper.

My dad is originally from Ghana, but our dinners are pretty traditional Western dinners because those are the dishes my mom knows how to cook. In Ghana, the food has a completely different taste and very distinct flavors. I’ve only tried it once because my dad doesn’t know how to make Ghanaian food. He eats the Western style food that my mom makes – and she’s a great cook – but I guess he used to crave a bit more spice, hence the cayenne pepper. Now, he’s moved on to ice cream as his food obsession.

As a college student who is home for summer break, I’ve become reacquainted with our family dinners after eight long months away at school. This summer, all of my family is at home under one roof – besides me (I’m 21), there’s my two parents, my sister Meredith, 23, and my brother Brent, 26. Our home is in Markham, Ontario, Canada, and we’ve lived here since I was little.

For our family, dinner has always been a time to put all of our busy lives aside. We sit down, share a meal together and use that time to connect with each other. Both my parents are in the medical profession and now my brother is, too – so I learn a lot listening to them talk about their day. In the crazy stories they tell about their patients (anonymously, of course), I learn more about medicine, but I also learn more about what life is really like for them and what their views and opinions are.

Now that all of us kids are in college, the conversations we have around the dinner table help us reconnect with each other after a long time apart. Of course we talk on the phone and Skype, but after we’ve been living separate lives for the past eight months, the dinner table is a more personal and engaging way to catch up. It’s where we really listen to each other, learn from each other and remember who each of us really is.