The best times my family and I spent together were during vacations. Not merely because we’d be excited to travel, but also because it was the only time we’d sit together at the table for every meal. We’d tease each other, steal food off one another’s plates and plan the day together. It was in these moments that my family seemed most happy. I wish we’d made eating together an everyday practice at home. After all, the dinner table had been our happy place during vacations.
Sadly, it’s not just my own family. In many homes, family breakfasts are difficult; everybody’s in a rush to get to work or school. Special Sunday lunches seldom work out; necessary shopping gets in the way. But what about family dinners? I’m sure not many of us have a genuine excuse to skip those. Unfortunately, many modern families still forego the practice, just so each member can separately watch their favourite shows on TV or laptops.
Traditionally, various cultures around the world are known to observe family meal time as a treasured practice. While studying in London, I lived with a lovely French family. Every night, without fail, the couple and their two teens would cook and eat together at the table. They’d invite me to join them, whenever they had other guests coming over. They’d even cook vegetarian food just for me, each time–and I was told it’s quite a challenge for the French!
My land lady Annick Guichard would tell me, “We’re French. We love to cook. And we love to eat with friends and family.” Recently, her daughter Alix moved out for higher education. But she continues to follow this tradition with her new flatmates, Annick tells me. “My daughter sends me photos every day, to show the ethnic specialties her flatmates have cooked. Each one is from a different country, you see–Portugal, Algeria, Jamaica, and Spain,” she says.