This is a great thread...I wanna answer these questions then read everyone elses' What was your family food culture when you were growing up? Basic American Comfort food...Minute Steak, Chicken and Noodles, Meatloaf, etc....like I said, my father is from West Virginia, so his palate was very meat and potatoes...that dictated alot of our meals. Was meal time important? Pretty much...when my brother and I were little, we didn't do alot of activities, so being at home for dinner was routine. It wasn't until I got older that I realized how "abnormal" that is for some people... Was cooking important? It was a means to an end, mostly. I know now how much my mother truly enjoys it most of the time, but years ago it was just something mom did... What were the penalties for putting elbows on the table? A stern look, maybe a "get your elbows of the table"...they tried to teach us manners, but weren't militant about it... Who cooked in the family? Mom. Sometimes I'd get to peel carrots or make rice or (gasp...instant) mashed potatoes. When we got older and did the "latchkey" routine, there were alot of nights I'd have to put something in the oven when I got home from school to be ready when mom and dad got home from work...it was usually somethng simple that I couldn't totally mess up. She'd have a roast in a pan with all the veggies, and a note "350 degrees, at 4 pm" or something. Were restaurant meals common, or for special occassions? Early on, very special occasions....birthdays, opening night for a big movie, etc. Then we started going out for dinner every Friday night and my brother and I would take turns choosing where to go. Did children have a "kiddy table" when guests were over? Only if the number of guests outnumbered available space. But almost always on holidays. When did you get that first sip of wine? Don't remember. I grew up Catholic, so it was part of Sunday mass already. Probably in my junior high years on a sneak. Was there a pre-meal prayer? Like I said, I grew up Catholic, so yes, every night. It was always accompanied by a special blessing for holidays. Was there a rotating menu (e.g., meatloaf every Thursday)? Sometimes. Mom usually tried to keep it different. Just before I moved away from home, Mom got on this "Meatloaf every Sunday" kick. and no, that wasn't why I left home... ;P How much of your family culture is being replicated in your present-day family life? Well, I cook and my husband does the dishes, that's new. But with my schedule, I only get to cook once or twice a week, so I try to make good healthy food, meat/starch/veg type stuff. That's from growing up. I try to make sure the rare instances he gets home cooking counts for something. It's just the two of us, so there's not the sense of "let's all gather 'round the table and talk about our day" thing. It's pretty different, I guess. We talk while I cook, usually opening a bottle of wine at that point. Most of the time we're sitting down during primetime, so we watch whatever is "must see" that night. Every once in a while I'll get tired of that routine and plan a full three course meal and tell him "no tv". We'll put on music, put candles on the table and be adults. That's just as nice. I see cooking dinner as a way of expression, showing him how much I care and enjoy his company. The experience is as much in the preparation as the meal itself.