In search of healthy and fun meals to feed my family, with an eye toward sustainable living.

Here you'll find recipes & ramblings about keeping my family fed with what's available in Alaska between local produce, a little bit of wild harvest, and the modern grocery store.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Food rules at your dinner table?

I recently wrote down some of my family-of-origin's food rules, after reading Michael Pollan's request for them on the NYTimes Health page.

I grew up in Germany, near the French border. We often ate cheese & fruit for dessert, and the saying went "Kaese schliesst den Magen", literally translating to "Cheese closes the stomach".
Our main meal was "Mittagessen" or mid-day-meal, and evenings we usually ate "Abendbrot" (evening bread) -- mostly made from whole grains, plus cold-cuts, etc. Wine, beer or herbal tea accompanied that.

The saying at our house was: "Iss morgens wie ein Kaiser, mittags wie ein Koenig, abends wie ein Bettler" (In the morning eat like an emperor, mid-day like a king, and in the evening like a beggar). The idea is to eat heartily earlier in the day, and lightly at the end of the day. Much to my chagrin, my husband's pattern is the exact opposite -- alas!
However, Germans do have a 4th meal in there: there's the traditional mid-afternoon "Kaffeetrinken" that usually involved pastry -- often mom's homebaked Kuchen with lots of fruit, and sometimes even whipped cream. One of my aunts would say this when refusing a second helping; "Minuten auf der Zunge, aber Jahre auf der Huefte", which literally translates: minutes on the tongue, but years on the hip -- in other words, the brief pleasure of eating the second helping was not worth the weight gain.

Do you have any food rules to share?

Photo credit: "American family dinner", Provincetown, MA, 1942 by John Collier, Jr.
NOTE: I found the photo on, a great website about eating sustainably, slow food movement, etc -- I recommend you check it out if you're interested in such things as food policy & culture, the environment, health, agriculture and growing your own food. I did add the link on the sidebar under sites I follow.

1 comment:

  1. Oooo. I'm always looking for a reason to eat cheese! Given that I'm not a fan of a full belly before bed, I love the pace of your German traditions.

    A recipe for Kuchen, perhaps?