Father’s Day

June 20, 2010

My father disdained what he called “Hallmark Holidays,” but today, thirty years after his death, I’ve been thinking that he was wrong. On this damp, gray day there is a melancholy happiness in eating his favorite foods and thinking about how much I still miss him.

Dad loathed American breakfasts. “How can you eat that?” he’d ask, looking miserable as Mom and I ate bowls of fruit and cereal, “it’s not real food.” Mom’s concession to Dad’s breakfast obsession was to get up early every morning and trudge to the bakery around the corner for fresh rolls. These she set out with plates of cheese (always the pungent Leiderkranz, sometimes the less objectionable Emmenthaler), sliced ham, salamis, fresh butter and good jam.

“But where’s the herring?” Dad asked every morning. Mom never deigned to answer.
During their courtship she had discovered how much he loved herring and always had some on hand when he came to visit. “Only after we were married did she inform me that she could not stand the stuff,” he said. Then he would shake his head sadly and say, “That’s the price of marriage. You have to give up the things you love best. Now I only get herring on my birthday.”

It’s not Dad’s birthday. But wherever he is, I hope he’s eating herring.

In his honor, I’m doing that right now.

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  • My father also died 30 years ago and I still mourn him every Father’s Day. I think of all the great grandchildren he missed seeing. How much he would have enjoyed all the successes of his grandchildren. But most of all I think of how much I miss his humor, his honesty, and his great smile. You can see him in Andrew!

  • Herring for breakfast sounds delicious! I hope your Dad is eating his herring daily, too! As a British/American I have come to appreciate the great US breakfast on occasion, but on a working day, I’m currently addicted to Dorset Cereals from the UK. Fantastic muesli-style cereal in gorgeous boxes, nutritious and tasty, to boot. Not sure about the global footprint of shipping to California Whole Foods etc, that’s the only downside.

  • Jean Weiner says:

    Oh Ruth- I do remember those breakfasts at your house, mostly in Wilton, with your wonderful, elegant dad presiding at the head of the table. I remember his laugh and, yes, the Liederkrantz . I knew it was supposed to have a foul smell, but, oddly, I never found it objectionable. I always think about him whenever I come across a reference to that cheese, though of course that is not the only time I think about him, and your mom as well.
    Fond memories. Cheerio- Jeanie

  • Ruth Reichl says:

    What I remember, is lunches at your house, and how much I wished my mom could make those neat little sandwiches like yours did. I especially remember cream cheese on white bread – a kind of simplicity that my mom could never countenance – and how much I loved their clean, cool flavor. I never eat cream cheese without thinking of Ida.

  • Jean Weiner says:

    Yes- it was usually cream cheese with thinly sliced cucumber. Whole grain sandwich bread was not on our menu in those days. But- rye bread was- fresh, warm, crusty, from the Village bakery – remember it? I used to finish off half the loaf before reaching home. They had that wonderful chocolate chip cake too. I remember you and I used to try to duplicate it, but could never figure out how to keep the chips from sinking to the bottom of the cake! The menu at your house was always much more interesting – always an adventure…..loved it … so many years ago. xxxooo J.