Bridgette A. Lacy: Father’s Day Memories

We welcome a blog post in honor of Father’s Day by Bridgette Lacy, author of Sunday Dinner: a SAVOR THE SOUTH® cookbook. Bridgette shares the memories of her grandfather in the kitchen and the importance of gathering together. Want to start Sunday dinner traditions of your own? Read Bridgette’s blog post on how to get started.

From Bridgette and the folks at UNC Press: Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. 


Father’s Day Memories

James R Moore Jr My maternal grandfather’s love often came in packages. He would send a box of thick-sliced fatback bacon to my Howard University dormitory, sweet potatoes delivered by cousin Gwen, or a large brown bag filled with ham sandwiches for the train ride from Lynchburg, V.A., back home to Washington, D.C.

James Russell Moore Jr., who I affectionately called Papa, loved feeding his grandchildren. I was his oldest. As a child, I was a skinny girl and a finicky eater. But anything my Papa made, I was at least willing to try. That meant potato salad, which had too many complex flavors for my adolescent taste. But I couldn’t refuse a spoonful or two of one of my family’s favorite side dishes.

As we approach Father’s Day, I am transported to his backyard garden. My memory takes me to the two apple trees whose branches once met in the sky, forming an endless bridge of hope for me. The goldfish pond glistened with bright orange swimmers. The smoke house, the dog house, and the rabbit cages all snug with their appropriate inhabitants.

Some of my favorite moments with my Papa were made in that sacred space where vegetables, fruits, and flowers grew. He would often give me a cigar to keep the flies away as we picked string beans off the vine for dinner.

Sunday dinner is the gravitational pull that brings family and friends together. It’s a reassurance that the people you love are there for you.
Gardening and cooking were acts of love for him. His lessons continued in the kitchen as I watched him meticulously prepare coconut pies and his Nilla Wafer Brown Pound Cake on Saturday afternoons for Sunday dinner. There was an air of excitement in the kitchen as Papa flipped the heavy Bundt pan over onto a plate. He would remove the pan to reveal the Nilla Wafer Brown coloring of the cake. That was how he measured the cake’s perfection.

In my grandparent’s home, Sunday dinner was a big meal always served in the dining room with the good China. There was always plenty of fried chicken, potato salad, yeast rolls, and greens. There was always room for extended family members, a visiting aunt, nearby cousins, or a single uncle in need of a home-cooked meal.

Sunday Dinner cover imageSunday dinner was the place where you learned your family’s history. You heard stories of romance, challenges and triumphs. It was a time for storytelling. Problems disappeared during those cherished hours.

The meal was never rushed, folks always lingered. When you sat down, you didn’t get up until there was no more room for another delicious bite. Anything you needed was already on the table.

I learned a lesson that would guide me into adulthood during those meals. Food tastes better when it’s shared. Sunday dinner is the gravitational pull that brings family and friends together. It’s a reassurance that the people you love are there for you.

Even now, I always feel special when someone cooks for me. It’s such a sincere way to give a piece of you to someone else. Happy Father’s Day, Papa. Your memory is one of my most prized packages. You continue to deliver.

Bridgette A. Lacy is a journalist who writes about food for the Independent Weekly and the North Carolina Arts Council. She also served as a longtime features and food writer for the Raleigh News & Observer. Her book Sunday Dinner: a SAVOR THE SOUTH® cookbook is now available. Connect with Lacy on Twitter @bridgettealacy. Don’t forget to “like” the Savor the South® page on Facebook for more news and recipes.