Guitar Hero and Grub: On Food and Family

My family has always been close. Growing up my parents had a rule that we had to eat dinner together — like clockwork we would assemble from all corners of work/school/our rooms at 5:30 for my Mom’s incredible meals.

This is hardly a new concept…for generations literally every culture around the world has had customs centered around food. In our house, no cell phones were allowed at the dinner table, and we all went around and talked about our days. Some days with more attitude and moping than others. For as long as I can remember, rain or shine, my parents, my two younger siblings and I sat around the table …even if we hardly saw one another for the rest of the day.

As I ventured off to Stanford for college, and my brother followed 3 years later to Berkeley (our youngest brother was still in middle school at the time), we only got to continue our sacred tradition every 6–8 weeks if schedules aligned and we were all able to make it back home for a weekend or break. Taking matters into their own hands, my parents recently moved down to Cupertino to be closer to us kids in the Bay — and now we’re starting new, and equally amazing, traditions.

Since it’s impractical to expect all of us to eat a meal together every single night of the week, we’ve started a new ritual. Guitar Hero and Grub every Sunday. No, I’m not kidding, and yes, we might be the only ones left on the planet that still play Guitar Hero. That too, on a Wii console.

Guitar Hero and Grub represents more than just jamming to some songs and enjoying great food together. All 5 of us have committed to getting together every Sunday to enjoy each other’s company, share a home-cooked meal, learn new things, and have fun as a family. My siblings and I are trying to learn how to cook, so we pick a recipe each week and give it a try, and my parents are picking up Guitar Hero surprisingly quickly — today’s favorite was “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple.

For me, the past month of this new ritual has reminded me that no matter what craziness is happening around us, my family is and will always be a constant and steady source of support and love. Through unemployment (read: fun-employment), work troubles, health scares or experiments, breakups/makeups, and all the other whirlwinds we find ourselves going through, we always have Sundays to look forward to. Not only that, but being more aware of what’s going on in each others’ lives has allowed us to be there to help each other through big things and small: one Sunday we all helped my brother move out of his apartment in Berkeley after graduating, another Sunday my whole family spent hours getting my small apartment outfitted to play movies after I complained over a meal that I didn’t like my set-up.

I realize that my family is incredibly fortunate to 1) live close to each other, 2) have jobs that allow us the flexibility and privilege to spend Sundays together, and 3) get along enough to want to spend time together. But I also appreciate that life can get busy and we’ve all made it a priority to carve this time out for one another. Tomorrow is my youngest brother’s first day of junior year in high school, but he still made it tonight (albeit, laptop in hand frantically finishing up summer reading).

I know this won’t last forever, but I am thoroughly enjoying our new Sunday Guitar Hero and Grub tradition (at least while I’m still the reigning Guitar Hero champ of the family), and am excited for new directions we’ll take this. Together.

In case you’re curious, today’s recipe was sourced and made by my middle brother. It was delicious: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/red-wine-braised-short-ribs
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