21 July 2007

The shared lunch

One of the traditions I'm bringing back to my home is Sunday lunch with family and friends. When I was growing up, this was the big meal of the week; the meal everyone looked forward to. Anticipation played a big part in this tradition too. The preparations and the smell of food roasting in the oven made us all think about the lunch long before we sat down to eat it.

was quite common in the 1950 for everyone to sit down to a family meal at lunchtime on Sunday and if you had walked out into our neighbourhood at 11am any Sunday morning, you would have been able to smell the roasting meat and vegetables cooking away slowly in all those old ovens.

My parents shared the cooking of Sunday lunch. It was usually a leg of lamb or pork served with baked potatoes, pumpkin, onions, carrots and sweet baby peas. The thickish brown gravy that was poured over the meat was Dad's speciality. He also carved the meat, but he had to fend off my sister and I who would stand close hoping to get a small piece of meat before it went onto the plates. Mum peeled the vegetables and started the meat cooking and then would sit back for the rest to be done. Dad would check on the meat as it cooked and added the vegetables to the roasting pan when the time was right. My sister and I were eager servers, taking all the plates to the table that we'd set beforehand. That table was yellow and black Formica with metal sides. We always set the table with an embroidered cloth and mum's best pearl handled cutlery - which I now have. I don't remember what we had to drink with our meal, but I'd guess it would have been water. Dad might have had a glass of beer and Mum would have had the thick black coffee she always enjoyed.

Our dessert was usually fruit based. It might have been a peach cobbler, apple crumble or stewed pears, or sometimes baked apples stuffed with dates, but all these would have been served with a real egg custard, hot and steaming and running down the sides.

Later that evening, just as the family was sitting around the open fire in the lounge room and Mum was testing our spelling by conducting her own spelling bee with my sister and I, Dad would walk in with a tray piled high with bread, butter, sliced roasted meat, and a little salad. We would all toast our bread over the fire and make our own sandwiches. 

When I grew up and had my own family, I lived a long way from my parents' home but we started serving those Sunday lunches again. I'd cook a leg of lamb while listening to Radio National's Science Show with Robin Williams. Sometimes we'd invite friends to join us, but often we enjoyed our meal with just our small family. Then we stopped. I started working and was too tired for the big extravaganza on Sunday. We had lonely sandwiches instead.

Our Sundays have changed a lot over the years but we've started those lunches again. We don't eat meat now so we don't roast a leg of lamb, but I do bake bread and make pizzas. Often we've had visitors who have been delighted with a salad and soft boiled eggs with everything freshly picked in our backyard, and served with hot wholemeal or rye bread. In winter we have hot vegetable and barley soup with herb or spinach dumplings, or a warm frittata made with our home grown kipfler potatoes, spinach, capsicum and garlic.

The style of food has changed a lot over the years but the anticipation and
the enjoyment of sharing the abundance of our backyard with friends and family is ever present. This, my friends, is another simple joy that cannot be bought and a family tradition worth keeping.


  1. A very nice post, Rhonda. I think there's a lot going for traditions and rituals such as these. Growing up, our baked dinners were usually Friday night - with a BBQ lunch on Sunday.

    Regards, Gary

  2. Rhonda, I really enjoy reading your blogs.I have been looking at your laundry detergent recipes in previous posts- where can I buy washing soda? I have tried before and been unsuccessful!
    Thanks, Bella

  3. thank you Gary and Bella.

    Bella, are you my Bella from the Atherton Tablelands? You buy washing soda at the supermarket - IGA, woolworths etc have it. You'll find it in the laundry products aisle, either in a small cardboard box or a plastic bag. It will probably be lower down away from the more commercial products.

  4. I can definitely relate Rhonda - although we used to have the big dinner on Sunday nights and then the leftover meat went into lunches the next day. I did try the dinner thing with my children when they were younger, but since I have been working more hours as they have gotten older I have stopped it again. I was only saying to my daughter (13) last nightthat I'd like to teach her to cook dinners. She is very enthusiastic. Here starts a new tradition in my house I hope!

  5. We were speaking along similar lines at work yesterday about what cooking our fathers did. It seemed common for dads to do the roast but mine and several others were potato cake fanatics lol Bring back the Sunday roast!

  6. Well that post brought back lots of lovely memories :)
    We had Sunday dinner and it was the only time we used the good dining table except for Christmas. LOL
    I did not carry on this tradition when I got married and I think it was because we could barely afford to eat let alone have enough for a roast!
    This is a tradition I would like to start again in my family now that grandchildren have started arriving :)

  7. I just registered so now I won't keep forgetting to put my name in ;)

  8. OH my gosh Rhonda, thank you for the memories...We did the Sunday lunch roast dinner thing and still remember those days

  9. Thanks Rhonda, I will have another look in the laundry section of supermarket.
    Bella (not from Atherton Tablelands)

  10. I love the idea of traditions ~ my family doesn't really have any.

  11. We have a roast on Sunday but unlike my childhood tradition we have it in the evening because that is what my husband's family did. Sunday lunch for us is usually sandwiches or soup.

    A roast is really a very restful meal to make. Our mother's and grandmothers were not stupid. A large joint of meat looks like a fussy meal but once it is in the oven there is not that much more to do.

  12. Such a lovely way to spend Sundays. We've been doing the weekly roasts, but for dinner instead of lunch. My husband makes a mean gravy, and the children love to go to pick fresh rosemary (our only flourishing herb!) for the chicken. I've yet to add dessert to the menu, but a fruit crumble is a good idea. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  13. Rhonda,I really enjoy stopping by to see what you have written. It is always informative and heartwarming to visit with you!

    Sharing a meal with family and friends is one of the best ways to show your love for them. It saddens me to hear that people don't have time to sit and down and eat together as a family anymore. Sitting down at the table together is the highlight of my day.

    It is lovely to be reminded of the Sunday lunch tradition. Thank you.

  14. Thank to everyone for the kind words here. I hope more shared lunches and dinners will bring families together over time.

    Ali, traditions become traditions because someone first took the time to start them. Maybe the shared lunch could be your first family tradition. : )

  15. We have a traditional Sunday lunch/dinner almost every Sunday. Unplanned events sometimes happen on Sundays. We must have a roast, as Church is 35 miles from our home. When we come home, the meat is ready. We make all the fixings to go along with it, including a delicious gravy. (I only use 1 cup of concentrated broth for six cups of gravy, saving the rest for other cooking. I feed five or more.) We also eat together throughout the week. If someone is unable to make dinner--my children at home are all adults, their place is set and a portion of dinner is saved for them. We try to sit with that person while they eat when they get home. We look forward to eating together as a family.

    No Idle Hands
    Psalm 121


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