What’s in a name?

Once upon a time, in a small town on Cape Ann, Massacheusetts, there lived a woman named Helena (my great-grandmother). Every year, her son brought his wife, Dot and kids, Janet and Teddy, to stay for weeks at a time, to enjoy the beach, the penny candy, plenty of lobster, and the general splendor of summer in New England.

When, each day, it came time for lunch, Helena would turn to her daughter-in-law Dot and say, “What’s for lunch, Dot?”

Now, Dot was a fantastic cook (with a temper as hot as her oven). But when her dear sweet mother-in-law would ask her this, day in and day out, she got incredibly aggravated. Wasn’t this her vacation too? It wasn’t even her own house, for Heavens sake (though, knowing my grandmother, “for Heaven’s sake” was categorically NOT what she was actually thinking).

The two young bucks, Janet and Teddy (my mother and uncle), recognized this and secretly delighted in their mother’s frustration. So began a long running family joke. “What’s for lunch, Dot?” became an oft used phrase for any number of situations, in the kitchen and out, both literally and figuratively.

Hankering for a ham on rye but don’t feel like making it yourself? Turn to the person next to you and say “What’s for lunch, Dot?” Your dad asks you to rake the leaves in the yard when he full well knows there’s a Real World marathon on TV? Turn to your younger brother and ask “What’s for lunch, Dot?”

And so, dear reader, we come to the purpose of this blog and the very personal name I have chosen for it.

Food has always been an important and binding factor in my family. Most, if not all, of my family’s traditions revolve around food and specific meals that we share together, year after year. I come from a line of energetic, creative and inspired home cooks who believe strongly that what you serve to others is an extension of how you feel about them.

As you have (hopefully) read in the “About Meredith” section, I am a trained chef and work in the culinary industry in New York City, arguably the most dynamic food city in the world. And yet, many of my most treasured recipes and dishes are those that I learned in my grandmother’s and mother’s kitchens (incidentally, I also learned quite a bit about pastry from my Godfather, who lives next door to the very house where this blog’s title phrase was originally used). I absolutely believe it is the combination of home cooking skills and the more refined, French techniques I learned here in New York that have made me the cook that I am today.

“What’s for Lunch, Dot?” describes perfectly how I feel about food and cooking. Its all about perspective. You can’t take yourself too seriously. Food, more than anything, is about having fun. Laughing with the people you love. Creating memories and traditions. If you come up with something tasty along the way, perfect. If it’s a total disaster, at least you can joke about it. Journey with me though the recipes on this site. Let me share with you, the home cook, the kitchen lessons I’ve learned.
And maybe, just maybe, you’ll take away with you your own family motto (but not “What’s for lunch.” That one’s already taken).

Eat up!