Thursday, June 17, 2010

Food for Thought Thursdays: a Visual Feast

Rachel here: My dad is one of my favorite people. EVER. While my mom and I share a love for cooking (amongst other things), the appetites my dad and I have in common are a little different. One of my favorites is our mutual love of a midday break to peruse an art museum and share a little lunch.

I can't recall when this little art and lunch tradition of ours first started, though I know it was when I was in high school. At a time when-at best!-I was reticent, invitations to meet my dad at his office on Wednesdays (we had half-days at my high school) or over school breaks were a surefire way to bring us together. He would either pick me up or, once I could, I would drive in to his office to meet him. We'd make our way over to the Atheneum (a seriously, seriously awesome and accessible art museum in Hartford, Connecticut that you should check out if you're in the area) and peruse the galleries together. With my dad at my side, I discovered Calder and the Hudson River School, learned the difference between Monet and Manet, and spent an afternoon stifling chuckles at Grandma Moses (to this day, neither one of us really "gets it" when it comes to her) name just a few. In an era when I was loathe to converse much with my parents (except to argue about why I should be allowed to go to various parties or, absent a party, to just loudly list my grievances against them), these excursions with my dad offered neutral territory for us to meet on. With neither of us an expert on what we were feasting our eyes upon, we were free to postulate and interpret as equals. I don't know if my dad had considered this all when he first initiated these little adventures of ours, but regardless, it was brilliant parenting. It was a point of access to him for me, a door that was always ajar even if I had been slamming the one on my bedroom ferociously for days. Often, though we'd start out talking about art, we'd end up discussing the issues I was grappling with at the time.

Sometimes we'd eat in the museum cafe (very yummy), but my favorite was when we'd have sushi together. Sushi wasn't something that we ate growing up. Instead, at least in my teenage mind, it was something that my dad and I ate together. It felt so sophisticated and decadent to me, and a little bit adventurous. I felt like we had this little club-the art and sushi club-that nobody else in my family even desired to join (clearly indicating irreparable shortcomings on their parts). Even if we didn't get sushi, remaining at the museum to nibble in the cafe instead, I felt like my dad and I were sharing a mutual love of finer things, dining surrounded by art.

Every time I go to Connecticut to visit my family (ok, almost every time), my dad and I get in a trip to an art museum. These days he's quite fond of the New Britain Museum of American Art and I've enjoyed the shows he's taken me to there. Though it's rarely just the two of us on these outings these days, I hold this little feeling that everyone else is just peripheral, that really these visual feasts are for my dad and me, that our club is in session even if we haven't formally announced it.

As I'm sitting here writing this, I'm realizing that I don't think I've ever thanked my dad for this tradition of ours that he's gifted me with or expressed to him how much it has meant to me for a decade or more now. And so, thank you, Dad-for art, for lunch, for creating this space for me to find you in (as a tumultuous teen, but also forever). Happy (early) Father's Day; I love you now and I will love you always.

PS: If you're looking to bake a cake for a favorite father of yours this weekend, click here for inspiration!


  1. I may have wanted to steer you to a place where raised voices were taboo. The rest is gravy. Thanks for making me a dad 25 years ago. Let's eat art! Love from your doting father.

  2. Very nice, Rach. Great picture of you, too in your beautiful wedding dress. You are blessed with intelligent, caring, and fun-loving parents, as they are with you. Here's to your being the same for your little one.