My mother has a number of tables at her house, and they are always ready for action.
There’s the table in the garden bungalow, where many of Mum’s neighbours gather each day for coffee and sweets. There’s the table in the kitchen, where day-to-day meals are had. And there’s the table in the lounge room, where we gather to have more formal meals, such as at Easter or on New Year’s Day. On these occasions, the crystal vase filled with bright plastic flowers is put to one side, the lace tablecloth is whipped off, and a crisp linen one laid out. On it might go platters boasting a few roast chooks, Mum’s delectable handmade chips, a Greek salad, an oversized spanakopita, plates of feta cheese and olives, and some crusty homemade bread. Then, three generations of family sit around the table, talking too loudly and eating too much. Invariably, someone will spill something on the white tablecloth.
Be it at my mother’s table, or at our own at home, we take it for granted we will have enough food to put on the table each day. It’s sobering to know that for some people, food is a discretionary item – and sometimes they go without if an unexpectedaly big bill comes along for example.
Last year, I was invited to 'donate' a story to an anthology honouring a beloved domestic icon, the kitchen table. Comedian Denise Scott, novelist Helen Garner and restauranteur Stefano di Pieri also donated their stories, so I was in good company. The idea was that a portion of the royalties from the sale of the book were to go to Foodbank. This is an organisation that rescues surplus food and groceries from the country’s farmers, manufacturers and retailers, and redistributes it to feed on average of 88,000 people a day. Last year, Foodbank provided 24 million kilograms of food and groceries to over 2,500 charities and 640 schools across Australia.
The result of editor Nick Richardson’s vision, with production by ABC Books, is the gorgeous-looking Kitchen Table Memoirs. It's an anthology of 21 poignant, funny and heartfelt stories that make for delicious reading. If you buy the book, you will no doubt be enveloped by that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you know you are helping a great organisation put food on the table. Dare I say it, but I think it might be perfect gift for Mum!
Find out more and buy Kitchen Table Memoirs.