So many of the life lessons taught by my parents were given at the dining table. To say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. To start from the outside of your cutlery and work your way in. That I really shouldn’t eat so fast. That no one liked my first boyfriend. That I would be given £x a month at university and that was to be spent on y and z accordingly. And so it went on.
All the best conversations happened round a dining table in our family. Growing up, we ate what was put on our plates and we were grateful for it. We never had ‘kids choices’ – from restaurant menus or at home. I had my first sip of wine from the finest French crystal, on holiday, aged 5 and ¾. We became adventurous with flavour and were forever keen to try new things.
My Dad always, always took one for the team. My little sister was the fussy one. Aged 2 and a bit we took her on her first trip abroad. Brittany. Two weeks of saucisson, pain and Boursin, which unfortunately made her think that was all she wanted to eat in the world – ever. But my parents persisted. She could order her saucisson but she was also allowed to choose Dad’s main course. Little sis became increasingly accustomed to having more than just one mouthful and soon it was my Dad that started to look like a sausage…
I’ve talked about Michael Pollan before and because I have so much time for this guy he’s about to crop up again. His little book ‘Food Rules’ lists out 64 tremendous points.
These are two of my favourites:
58. Do all your eating at a table
59. Try not to eat alone
There’s rarely a meal I don’t eat at the table. Kitchen tables are my favourite. They’re more relaxed, closer to the action – and the wine! When I’m up and about at the crack of dawn my husband’s not always overly keen to join me for scrambled eggs so I’d be lying if I said I’ve always got company. But I enjoy my food most when it’s served with conversation. When I learn something. You’d be amazed at what mealtimes can teach you about yourself – and others.
Do you eat all your meals at a table?