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Article: When a $20 meal is priceless

When a $20 meal is priceless

When a $20 meal is priceless

One of my great joys in life is watching someone enjoy a meal that I’ve prepared for them - but until recently, I never really gave much thought to why.

It’s only since my mother’s passing, now two years ago in March, that I have begun to understand the reason for this.

My mother enjoyed many things, but cooking was not one of them.

Despite this, both my sister and I have both become pretty proficient in the kitchen and we both love cooking in our own unique ways.

As my mother got older and the grandkids grew in number, she eventually passed the torch of family meal planning and preparation entirely to my sister and I when we would come to visit her. Some of the meals we would serve would be elaborate feasts that required hours of effortin the kitchen before having the crew descend and polish everything off within minutes. It sometimes felt like a thankless task.

There is a scenario that often repeated itself during these times when we'd finally sit everyone down to eat, my mother would exclaim how delicious the food was, no matter what was served;and insist on being walked through the exact details of how to make it. She would then repeat the steps back slowly, as if she were memorizing it, and my sister and I would look at each other, rolling our eyes because we knew that there was no way on earth she would ever be making this dish.

And then the words we were waiting for, said with earnestness and a shaking of the head in disbelief: "Sooo good - at least $20 in a restaurant!"

To her, paying $20 for something to eat was an indulgence, and making this statement was the ultimate declaration of approval, the highest order of acknowledgement that we had performed something to her satisfaction. Whether it was a prime rib or a lobster feast that cost hundreds in groceries, the price never went up - always “$20 in restaurant”. But to us, her appreciation was what counted.

These days, I will joke with my kids and ask “$20 in restaurant?” when they’re enjoying a meal - and I can picture my mom, laughing right there with us, glad we are remembering the joyful moments.

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