I’m not sure where I’d be, after the tumult of 2020, without this table.
It’s been in my family for generations. My dad and his 8 siblings actually grew up eating around it. I’m not entirely sure how they all fit, but I guess it was a simpler, less extravagant time. As a child, I grew up sitting at it on our veranda, used on balmy Queensland nights when it would have been a crime to be indoors. Of course, by that point, it had been covered by one of my mother’s tablecloths to hide the badly chipping Laminex underneath (an addition courtesy of the ’70s and my Granny’s questionable taste). In my late teens I discovered how beautiful it was under all that nonsense, chiselled off the Laminex, stripped the timber, sanded and oiled it; and claimed it as my own. It is now my most prized possession. It is the one thing that if my house was on fire, I’d seriously consider running into flames to save.
This table now sits extra pretty with this bench seat, which happens to be my fav Gumtree find ever. It took a surprisingly empowering solo drive in a manual van out to the country one wintery Wednesday night to retrieve it from another family who had loved it for generations prior. And despite the work it took me to refinish and reupholster it — I’d say it was ten-out-of-ten worth the effort.
But obviously, this love letter is not so much about the actual furniture… it’s about the meals shared around it.
There’s been whole roasted barramundi with capers & vine-ripened tomatoes, harissa pork shoulder with butter beans & spinach; peach & thyme focaccia with burrata & heirloom tomatoes; foraged cumquat & ginger-spiced cake; truffle & chilli cacio e pepe; roasted duck with blackberry balsamic reduction; Ash’s southern fried chicken & waffles; Yo’s beef Rendang; Samie’s made-from-scratch gnocchi with eggplant ragu; Dave’s thanksgiving tomahawk steak; too many beautiful sweet treats via Marlei and Yolla; and countless iterations of shakshuka for me to even recall.
You can’t tell me food is merely physical. Because I’ve watched it transform this space into the safest place for everyone who has entered it.
Something happens to us when we stop the hustle, turn off the screens, slow ourselves, light some candles, and we sit and eat. I think it’s perhaps when our soul has a chance to catch up with our body.
There’s been so much laughter here… the side-splitting kind; even when the world seemed darker than ever. There’s been more than one impromptu post-meal dance party, that seemed to somewhat expunge us of our lockdown restlessness. There have been many tears here, kind of like a pressure valve finally being released. There have been prayers prayed and prayers answered. There have been weighty conversations as weary hearts have wrestled with the complexity of injustice, disappointment, faith and fear.
I’ve always loved the table, but last year threw fuel on that fire. The bible talks about the ‘breaking of bread’ as an important act and I’ve seen it to be true — a truly sacred act that has ushered a little bit of heaven earthward.
As life continues to ramp up and inevitably rollercoaster us through the days ahead, you’ll still find me regularly returning here to this table. If I can make the world better by even a centimetre, I’d imagine it might take place right here.
This article is from Issue Two of our Artists Still Live Here magazine. Download the free magazine below