Sunday Dinner and Me

I grew up in a small town, one generation away from the family farm, but I inherited a bit of practical knowledge about raising food and an interest in cooking and American foodways. Like many people in this country, I now live thousands of miles away from the family farm (which my uncle still runs, although ostriches have replaced cattle as the main cash crop). I stay connected to my family by sharing recipes with them and preparing my family's favorite meals for friends here in Los Angeles.
My great-grandparents, Maude and Claude Phillips, sorting potatoes.  Photographer and date unknown.

My parents and Uncle Richard eating Sunday dinner, 1962.

Sunday Dinner is the once-weekly gathering that brought people together in a celebration of food and family. It’s pretty much died out, and probably for good reasons, but it still has a powerful hold on our imagination. A few years ago I received a grant from the Library of Congress to research Sunday Dinner and since then I’ve been obsessed with tracking down vintage photographs and stories about this lost American tradition. I have a vision of a Sunday Dinner reborn, without the drudgery that traditionally fell to the woman of the house.

Sharing a meal may be one of the last remaining ways our culture has to strengthen ties with friends and family and to reconnect to our heritage. I invite you to join me in my quest to investigate Sunday Dinners of the past and to re-make the grand tradition of Sunday Dinner.