An Invitation to: Culture typography

by Shirley Solis

Gathering Together: Love, Food, and Culture

ur family once went to Ecuador to spend time with loved ones. One of the things that stood out to me the most was how every meal was a small ritual of love and culture. Breakfast went beyond the simple cereal and milk, and instead included a sit down option of several juices, eggs, cheese, bologna, breads, and coffee. Lunch was no different, serving a delicious and creamy vegetable soup and a main course. Dinner was equally filling with a large serving of rice, lentils, and a fried or grilled piece of steak or chicken.

This incredible experience helped me realize the potential mealtime has for us as homeschooling families. We have the opportunity to create rituals of love and culture for our children, as well as giving them the chance to experience the cultures of people around the world through food.

Family Meals: Rituals of Love and Culture

Although the meals were quite satisfying, what was more filling were the emotional portions of sharing and talking while we ate. There was no rush. Whenever we were done, we were done. In between every morsel of food was the story of the day and every serving included a new ingredient to bring each member together.

When I think of how family meals have changed in the United States, I remember it was not long ago (generationally speaking) when families sat down for dinner and enjoyed each other’s company. Today, with soccer practices and piano lessons in the afternoon, church meetings and last-minute grocery shopping—family members seldom enjoy a family meal, or as I have grown to call it, a ritual of love and culture.

“Although the meals were quite satisfying, what was more filling were the emotional portions of sharing and talking while we ate. There was no rush.”
These rituals should happen at least once a day and be relaxed and without time pressures. In fact, time pressure is a family meal’s worst enemy. I’ve personally learned five things that will help our family gather daily, and I want to share them with you:

Let each member of the family know that having a daily family meal is a must. When each member knows a family meal is an important family value, there are no excuses or schedules that come up.


Develop a routine for setting the table and a special call to get everyone ready. The pre-ritual is almost as fun as the ritual itself. Getting young ones involved in putting the placemats and utensils on the table and ringing a bell or calling each person by name is a fun part of gathering the family.


Let conversations occur naturally, but proactively work toward making them lively. Meals at our house are loud and fun. That is because everyone wants to share what happened during the day. We’ve found that asking questions and taking the initiative in sharing is the perfect way to lead into bonding.


Dump the clock at least four times a week. As I mentioned earlier, time is a family meal’s worst enemy. That is why you must plan to enjoy at least four meals without rushing. No meetings. No recitals. No practices. Nothing. Just your family and your delicious meal.


Make sure you sit around the table. I highly recommend you make a beautiful, sacred space around a dining table and allow the space to welcome the meal and the conversation.

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Expanding Our Geographical Taste Buds: Experiencing the World with Food

When this has become a habit, consider how you might create family memories around the table while giving your children a “taste of the world”!
“Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.”
—Alice May Brock
The United States is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. In any major city, families have an array of food choices to experience the flavors of cuisine from around the world.
a family setting the table for a meal together

When our family traveled around the US, we always looked for the place where locals ate. These little foodie nooks represented the culture and the taste of the city we were visiting. We learned about the customs, food, and preferences of the people in the area. We also learned about the architectural inclinations of the town and all the things they held dear.

Every new restaurant represented an adventure to the senses and of course, we were always ready to take on the new experiences. Traveling to Louisiana, we made sure to try Cajun food and passing by South Carolina, we stopped at our favorite restaurant for catfish and black-eyed peas. California always welcomed us with the most amazing burgers at the popular In-N-Out Burger. Austin, Texas, had the most amazing shaved ice and Des Moines, Iowa, refreshed us with sarsaparilla. Along the way, we found our favorite spots and made sure to return year after year.

a basket of bread rolls
After some time of doing this, we started realizing that all cities had some foreign influence as well. Detroit, Michigan, had a large population of Iraqi families. It was easy to notice by the number of restaurants that reflected their culture. When visiting Los Angeles, we appreciated the many options of Indian cuisine. And in our own neck of the woods, we found endless choices of Argentine, Nicaraguan, Venezuelan, and Cuban food, just to name a few.

With my personal passion for culture, I started looking for foreign restaurants in the United States. Upon entering each restaurant, I made sure to point out the decor and the attire of the waiters. I also pointed out the menu and often asked the waiter to pronounce the names and explain in detail where the dishes originated, how they were eaten, and what gave them their unique flavor. We talked about spices used and vegetables that were not common to us. We usually ordered a variety of dishes and never kept it safe. In other words, we always ventured to try new things. We tried appetizers, breads, main dishes, desserts, and drinks. We tried it all.

When we left each restaurant, our bellies were full, but most importantly, our knowledge of customs, dishes, and people of other countries had grown. Although this does not replace traveling abroad, it is certainly a phenomenal option and one that parents can take advantage of with their children. We can enjoy the diversity this nation has to offer. By visiting a foreign restaurant, your children will have an opportunity to expand their horizons and to be more sensitive to people who are different from them. This experience also allows them to have topics of conversation with others and to build bridges between cultures.

I invite you to look for a foreign restaurant in your city. Invest in a family visit to the restaurant and consider your homeschooling done for the day, while someone else cooks and you delight in your children actively learning about foreign cultures.

If going to a restaurant is not a possibility for your family right now, simply create the experience at home! Choose a country or culture you’re interested in, find a recipe in a cookbook or online, study a bit about the people and customs of this place. Have your children join in while making the meal. Enjoy a night of embracing culture together that your children won’t soon forget!

I encourage you to evaluate your current family meals—rituals of love and culture—and figure out how to make them special and lasting times that include delicious meals, family togetherness, and even a chance to “taste the world.”
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headshot of Shirley Solis

hirley Solis is a Visionary with a focus on Social Entrepreneurship. A Published Author, Speaker, Marketing and International Business Expert, certified as a Classic Code NLP Trainer and New Code NLP Practitioner by the co-creator of NLP, John Grinder, Carmen Bostic St Clair (co-creator of New Code NLP) and Michael Carroll (New Code NLP co-developer).

A pioneer in the world of parenting and homeschooling, Shirley’s speaking, training and coaching career was born when she created Powerful Parenting Academy from the experiences she acquired raising her six children and homeschooling for 21 years. A powerful and innovative leader to women as well, Shirley created Live Life The Experience, a 3 day event to empower women to reach their highest potential.

Shirley leads New Code Experience in the area of Leadership, Marketing, Social Impact, State Intelligence and Partner Relations. She invests countless hours to the expansion of innovative and congruent leadership on the planet.