On the inside of my kitchen cupboard, I have lists of foods that my husband and sons--and their girlfriends--like and/or dislike. Some might consider that overly indulgent and would run their culinary regimen differently, serving food that the cook likes and letting sons and girlfriends eat or not eat. Much to my husband's dismay--though he has his own likes, dislikes and allergies--I go to great lengths to make sure that the people who sit at my table enjoy the food available. That means I don't serve salmon, avocado, mushrooms to my youngest, or asparagus and risotto to his girlfriend; milk products to my middle child or raw onion and peppers to his girlfriend; shrimp or eggplant to my oldest (who doesn't have a girlfriend but whose daughter eats no grains, no color, no crunch--only pasta, butter, cheese, bread--without seeds of course); and no beets, asparagus, red meat, or milk fat to my husband. So despite the fact that I love almost all food and enjoy cooking it as well, I adjust accordingly.
I enjoy the company of my family at my table to the exclusion of most other activities. I am willing to work hard in the hopes they will stay at the table long enough to have a conversation about our mutual lives. Some are more talkative than others. But when the three boys are together at the table, the conversation is engaging. The boys are separated in years as the oldest is 11 years older than his next brother who is six years older than the youngest. Their relationships and their childhood experiences were greatly influenced by that span in years. They are protective of one another and close in a unique way. When they were younger, they spurred each other on to do things they would not otherwise have done if they had been only children or closer in age. I am quick to laugh at the stories of their childhood pranks despite the horror. In retrospect, I believe oblivion was blissful. These meals are worth every inconvenience in the preparation.