More time at the table


NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, May 21st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: eating together.

COVID-19 has changed mealtimes for a lot of people. But even with shuttered restaurants and empty grocery store shelves, it’s not all bad. In some households, families are coming together around the table again. WORLD reporter Jenny Rough talked with people who have rediscovered the joy of eating at home.

JENNY ROUGH, REPORTER: Before the coronavirus, the hours between school and bedtime were hectic for the Faris household, a busy family of five living in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

SHANNA FARIS: Tyler plays the bass in orchestra. Graham plays the trumpet and Olivia plays the flute. Tyler has soccer.

Shanna’s husband, Brad, is a partner at a law firm. His long hours and frequent travel threw another monkey wrench in the schedule. If everyone was home at 6, the family ate together. But most nights, dinnertime was unpredictable

Now with the coronavirus? No more conflicts. Everybody is home. 

SHANNA FARIS: Hey, Tyler! Dinnertime!
BRAD FARIS: Who needs water cup?

FARIS: It’s always a good time for us to, kind of, check in with each other. If you’re playing a game or watching a movie those are really great too but sometimes you’re not having as much conversation. 

Whitney Pipkin can relate.

AUDIO: [PIPKIN FAMILY DINNER]

She used to spend “hangry hour” in traffic picking up her 5-year-old from school and 2-year-old from daycare. 

WHITNEY PIPKIN: And so we’re all hungry, starving … they’re like gremlins nipping at my heels. 

Now under Virginia’s stay-at-home order, the 5 o’clock runaround disappeared. She can do something else at dinnertime. Like … make dinner. 

AUDIO: [CHOPPING AND SCRAPING]

She loves Instant Pot soups. But even more? Talking together. 

WHITNEY PIPKIN: I mean, that is where the bulk of our spiritual conversations happen with the kids is at the dinner table.

The pause button of coronavirus has taught her family a lesson.

WHITNEY PIPKIN: I think it is a reminder that for those of us who are fortunate enough to live with other people who maybe don’t get our attention as often as they should that they are our first order of hospitality. So even if my meal doesn’t get Instagrammed, or shared with someone, to have it be eaten by … all four of us is a big deal right now.

AUDIO: [SIZZLING SOUND]

STEVE KUAN: I think about food a lot. Like, after I eat, an hour later, I think about what I want to eat next. 

Steve Kuan lives in Rockville, Maryland. The lockdown gave him the chance to focus on something he’s been meaning to do for years. 

STEVE KUAN: So for breakfast today I’m going to make some sourdough pancakes. 

He followed a recipe from a flour company to grow the sourdough starter from scratch. Initially, he experimented with biscuits. 

STEVE KUAN: The first time was a total disaster. Like, the biscuit was like hard as a rock. It was like you can’t even eat it.

The second batch was much better. And now he’s moved on to pancakes.

AUDIO: [WHISKING BATTER AND CLANGING UTENSILS]

KUAN: Now I’m just pouring some blueberries, frozen blueberries, into the mix. 

Trying new food is fun, Kuan says. But again: The best part is family time at the breakfast table. 

KUAN: I definitely enjoy, personally, the time when we all get to see each other, be with each other, you know? Sharing meals is pretty personal stuff.

Rosemary Amabile is a widow. Her husband died a few years ago. 

When New York’s PAUSE order went into effect, safe social distancing meant her daughter, Kelly, couldn’t even visit. 

Enter Zoom.

KELLY MCGLYNN: When we figured out I wouldn’t be able to see her for a while because of the virus, we set up a lunch two different lunch dates.

Big fans of the New York Times’ weekly News Quiz, they played the game while eating a virtual dinner together. It meant a lot, especially to Rosemary.

ROSEMARY AMABILE: For me it was really nice because I eat so many meals by myself. Like actually seeing each other, and then having our salads. I think Zoom works pretty well with two people. 

In yet another household—near Washington, D.C.—newlyweds Alaina and Josh Benedict are working out the kinks of kitchen duties. They married eight months ago. For a while, they passed the chef’s hat back and forth. If one cooked, the other did the dishes. 

Then the coronavirus hit. 

ALAINA: I would say one big change for me, personally, is having more time. I’m in the kitchen more, and so that’s a definite big change, and I’ve sort of loved, or like I’m learning to love cooking a little bit more.  

With Josh also working at home, the two are discovering ways to be creative in the kitchen, cooking together.  

ALAINA: So today we’re actually trying a new recipe that I found on Pinterest and it’s called skillet Italian sausage and peppers with pasta.

It’s been a restful break from the bustling city life of D.C. The Benedicts appreciate the spiritual component of slowing down and eating together. It brings to mind Acts 2:46.

JOSH: Where it says they broke bread in their homes and ate together with happy and sincere hearts … And so I think it’s pretty evident that you see that there’s this idea of table fellowship throughout scripture and the idea of sharing a meal. 

But one thing everybody misses? Eating with friends they aren’t in quarantine with. Christ made shared meals a priority and modeled food and fellowship for his followers.

JOSH: Jesus breaking bread and feeding 5,000 people. So there’s something meaningful behind meals. 

For Whitney Pipkin, not being able to extend hospitality to neighbors with food—has been hard. Looking out her window, she says:

WHITNEY PIPKIN: Well, we have somebody moving in like right now across the street. And I don’t know how to meet the new neighbors because I have to distance from them. So I can’t throw them muffins. 

Alaina and Josh, the newlyweds, came up with one solution.

JOSH: We go through the drive-thru and then we sit in the parking lot and we eat together. And I know that if someone’s single, that might be a great way for them to meet up with somebody else. Everybody has to have their own risk tolerance, they have to follow their own state guidelines. But there are ways in which we can get creative and find ways to talk to people over food.

For WORLD, I’m Jenny Rough, reporting remotely from Alexandria, Virginia.


(Photo/iStock)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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