Conversations at Sunday Lunch

My father wanted Sunday lunch with the extended family, unless we were invited out to even more extended family.

I remember a few things about these Sunday lunches over the years from when I can remember until I left home and started having Sunday lunches with the Italians. In some ways not much has changed. In other ways I am in a different world.

Sometimes there was an overriding negative theme with my father. I remember trembling with fear in 1974 after the Oil Crisis. Credit was not available like it is now, and he forecast that things would get so bad we would have to get smaller cars, share transport to work and share meals every evening of the week to cut down on costs. Bear in mind his mother stayed about two km up the hill, his brother ten houses away and his sister would move in two blocks away. Perhaps it was his way of wanting to keep us all together. But his predictions of cost were frightening; to the point I think I became a vegetarian in my late teens in order to avoid the added expense of red meat.

But it was not all negative. It was a time of storytelling as well, recapping the week and school events. If we did not play a game of cricket afterwards then we sometimes all went for a drive to check the housing developments and in later year to see the spec houses. My father had a sense of ownership of creation when he saw his houses being completed and then for sale.

Some weekends Sunday lunch would involve a car trip into the Magaliesburg, even as far as Rustenburg, just to see the view, have some biltong and tea. I remember family friends Like Basil Seretis coming with but do not remember having lunch out. I do not think the money was available.

Unlike bigger family functions where the aunts would bring a large dish of their specialty food, I remember the Sunday lunch being supplied solely by the host mother. Sometimes the father would braai, after the sons had lit the braai and the wife had bought the meat. There were never complications like starters and pastas before the mains. Everything was served together as one meal except sometimes some olives while we the old men had a whisky and the dessert afterwards. Most times Greek coffee was served with pride, and some of the older aunties would be able to read our future. I cannot remember anything they predicted, but I cannot drink a cup of Greek coffee without turning it upside down in the saucer and looking at the lines of my future, and remembering the Sunday lunches of years before.

Sunday lunches had a recipe besides the food. It was dominantly family, occasionally a good family friend, seldom a xeno (foreigner). There were at least three generations present, if not four and some years five.  Politics was always discussed, someone always tried to get the children to speak Greek and it always anchored the uncertain week ahead in the heart of the dancers.