I think we often get in a rut and make dinner all about “food fast now”. We just churn out the next meal – because let’s be honest – we have to eat! But, I think dinner is really much more than that! When I was growing up, dinner was the one time of day that we all sat around the table and just talked. There was no agenda, no schedule, no homework – just unlimited time to be a family. (Story: we ALWAYS used to light the candles on the dinner table. When I was a kid, this seemed perfectly normal – why wouldn’t you light candles on a summer evening for a quick dinner? But now, I see that my mother was just giving us more reasons to enjoy being together!)
Now that I am married and am expecting a little baby (!), I keep thinking about what I want our dinner time to be like. Right now, it is pretty much the one time of day my husband and I have to be together. We both work during the day. And, after dinner, we are project people and tend to be separate around the house while we get things done. So, that hour and a half is really precious to us. Even if we are just catching up on our favorite show while we eat – it’s still “us time”. And, when our baby gets here, I know we will have to guard that time even more.
One of my FAVORITE memories of dinner time is when we used to visit our grandparents in Charleston.
After a long day at the beach, we would shower and get all cleaned – and often dressed up. We would meet in my grandparent’s big open kitchen overlooking the river. The kitchen would smell like Shrimp Creole – or some other Gourmet seafood dish – and Frank Sinatra would be playing on the Hi-Fi. (Sidenote: does anyone say “Hi-Fi” anymore?) My grandfather would be pouring their pre-dinner drinks while the kids would set the table in the Solarium. Often, Jeopardy would be on in the background.
That’s what I want – for dinner to be an event. My house doesn’t have a Solarium or a Hi-Fi system. And, I’m often in my sweats that time of night – rather than my dinner outfit. But, I still take time to make dinner fun. My husband set up speakers in our kitchen, so I can play music from my phone. Almost every night I turn on Pandora to some fun music and dance around while I empty the dishwasher and saute my onions. If you don’t have speakers in your kitchen, consider some portable speakers that give your kitchen that big-music feel!
by Cambridge Soundworks [Cambridge SoundWorks]
I also ALWAYS light a candle (I’m kinda of a Yankee Candle snob) and light our kitchen lamp – not the overhead light. All these little pieces of ambience make me happy – so dinner isn’t about speed and food – but about my time to decompress. If dinner is “us time” – the preparation is “me time”.
My dream is to have a large kitchen where all my (future) kids can hang out and talk while dinner is being made. My husband will randomly dance with me in the kitchen, and we can just have a calm moment before everyone splits for the evening.
On a side note, this is also what I love about eating out at a restaurant – the event. We don’t eat out a lot. And, when we do, I want to get dressed up and have someone serve me. It’s a treat that better be good!
Please share all your favorite dinner-time eating stories. Or, if you have tips and tricks for enhancing the dinner ambience – let us know! I love hearing other kitchen stories!