Luke Melia


December 24, 2004

Isabella’s Family Meal

Tonight, after an extravagant Christmas Eve dinner topped off by amazing tofu canolis, my sister Isabella showed us some of her college essays. I asked her if I could publish this one. The topic is: write about a meal with your family…

I smell frying tofu. My family trickles into the dining room to sit around the big wooden table as we do every evening. There is a big cast-iron frying pan full of tofu teriyaki. In a blue and white dish that used to be my maternal great-grandmother’s is kale with garlic and oil. The pressure-cooker full of brown rice sits on a trivet made from corks — a gift from my aunt.

My family and I are vegetarians, practically vegan. We do not eat meat, eggs, milk or dairy products, except for a little cheese once in a while (and that’s only because my dad is Italian). A lot of people are shocked when I tell them I am a vegetarian. “What’s left for you to eat?” they exclaim. Well, when you have an Italian father and a Jewish mother who love to cook, you eat a wide variety of things.

As I look around the table, I can see that my siblings are each unique. Luke is still dressed from his volleyball tournament earlier in the day. Willie is tanned from the California sun. We miss him a lot, but he likes living there. Jess has an AFL-CIO pin on her shirt. She organizes unions for a living. Monica loves to play the guitar, as the calluses on her fingertips show. Luke, Willie and Jess have a different father from Monica and I. However, we were all raised in the same house by the same woman and we share the basic values of delicious food, a passion for life and, most importantly, family.

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