Sunday Dinner


When I was a kid, Sunday was a day of rest … for everyone but mothers. Sunday was a ritual, almost religious in its well-kept traditions.

In our family my mother made dinner every Sunday. Some weekends, it was the predictable tomato sauce but more often it was a rib roast or roasted chickens. My mother had a rotisserie in the oven and I can still hear the mechanical sound as dinner rotated evenly around and around until cooked to perfection.

Dinner always included a “nice” salad (I guess other families had to deal with the nasty ones because ours were always nice) and dessert. Dessert was special because it was saved for weekends.

On Sunday, we would get to eat the pie with homemade crust painstakingly created on Saturday afternoon or a cake baked with mom’s secret flavor combinations.

My dad was an only child so my Gramma Russo was always with us. We didn’t have to share her with other cousins like we had to share Gramma Massaro. So the deal was, we would all eat at our own house then, wherever Gramma Massaro ate dinner was the location of “coffee.” Aunts and uncles and cousins would start to arrive after dishes and the leaves were inserted into the table.

The coffee pot went non-stop and all of the confections consumed. Ed Sullivan would be on TV as long as there was no game on. I really do remember seeing that long-haired band called the Beatles on one night and hearing my uncles laugh about all of the girls screaming. When we were first married, we continued to go to our parents’ houses, alternating to make it fair. I must admit, though, it was a bigger deal in my family so we were there most weekends.

As time went in I longed to have a Sunday alone or with people I did not have a direct DNA match. Foolish, silly me, because eventually Sunday dinner became an infrequent occurrence celebrated like an occasional high holy day. When I became a mother and our mothers moved from our long time family homes to small efficient condominiums, I tried to continue the Sunday dinner tradition even if it was only once a month. All were welcome but it usually ended up to be our mothers and various aunts and uncles.

I still try to have Sunday dinner whenever we are in town, even if it is just my husband and me.

Sunday, I made a roast chicken (no rotisserie for me) which I rubbed with a concoction of D’Avolio California Arbequina EVOO, chopped garlic, parsley, paprika, mustard seeds, dried mustard, coarse salt and fresh ground pepper.

I lifted the skin and put some under it on top of the meat. I rubbed some inside and put the rest on the skin on top.

I preheated the oven to 450F, inserted the thermometer probe (this is one of the most important tools in my kitchen) and put the chicken in the oven. I immediately reduced the temperature to 350F and cooked it until the internal temperature reached 165F.


I covered it with foil for the juices to set and made mashed potatoes, peas and pan gravy.

Just because it was only the two of us doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy a special Sunday dinner.

You can see the results above!

I am writing a book called “If It’s Sunday Dinner We Must Be Family” and want to know how you celebrate Sunday.

Here is a challenge to my foodie friends (face it, you read this if you are a foodie and/or my friend!): Please share your Sunday story. I would love to know things like how you prepare, who attends (not names rather relationships like children, in-laws, neighbors, etc.) and menu.

If the menu changes, who decides? Are they special occasions only? Tell me anything to help me understand how you value the tradition of Sunday dinner.

Each month I will post my favorite one. Each month D’Avolio will reward the winner a $25 gift card good at any of their locations.

Have a yummy week.

Next week: the Foodie finally visits the Lewiston Village Pub