One of my favorite memories as a child was taco night, the one time each of my four older siblings was certain to be at the dinner table. No one wanted to miss out on the fun -- or the food.

My mother would cook the cumin-scented beef filling, fry the corn tortilla shells and chop up crisp lettuce, tomatoes and dill pickles to serve on the side. (I can't explain the pickles. She had a strange affinity and they showed up in the oddest places.) Cheesy chile rellenos and enchiladas accompanied the tacos and, once the fiesta landed in the middle of the table, we briefly admired the bounty before the mayhem broke loose.

The chaos of everyone passing the bowls of salsa, cheese and other elements for taco construction was the most enjoyable part of the meal. We would laugh and talk and taunt each other, and enjoy each other's company. In fact, much of our family fun occurred around the dinner table.

I think it's for this very reason that I have tried to create special meals in my own family. I do that, not only because I know these meals will be remembered, but because in the process of sharing our favorite foods, we also pass along details of our lives and get to know each other in a way that no other forum allows. While my tacos are not my mother's ground beef variety, and I save the fried corn tortilla shells for very special occasions, my kids still look forward to taco night. And I still love the mayhem.

Meredith Deeds can be reached at