Back in June, I read "French Kids Eat Everything" by Karen Le Billon. The book really made a wonderful impact on me and made me rethink dinner time. Although we as a family almost always sit at the table together as a family, most of the time it still seemed like a rushed affair. I really wanted something different for us. I wanted our family to have a more relaxed, unhurried, conversation-filled, "French" dining experience.
Last winter during the dark evenings, we got into the wonderful habit of having candlelight dinners a few times a week. Not only would candles be present at the table, but we would set the table nicely including a cloth tablecloth and cloth napkins. When summer came, the candles retired the cupboards. Now, with the return of the dark evenings, both Reilly and Dane looked forward to our candlelight dinners and were the ones to place the candles back on the dining room table.
This past weekend, we took our candlelight dinner experience another step. We served dinner in courses. I had been wanting to do this for so long but for some reason was concerned about the timing of meal preparation and didn't want anything burned, cold or otherwise. This is one of those cases when I look back and laugh at how silly I was to worry!
We started with our salad (although I know that isn't the French way), enjoyed our main course and then our dessert. I chose to serve dinner plated versus family style. And you know what? EVERYONE loved it. And I'm not talking about just the food. Everyone enjoyed how dinner had become an event; something special. We felt like we were eating dinner out at a restaurant, but it was so much more comfortable...and definitely much more affordable.
Another thing we did was we used our fine china. Special dishes just sitting up in the cabinet are just that...special dishes just sitting in the cabinet. I was so afraid something might break that we rarely ever used them. I'm learning not to hold so tightly to "stuff". Yes, I'll be sad if something gets broken, but what good are those beautiful dishes if they are never used?
What about music? Well, for dinner we prefer quiet instrumental. Music with a fast beat makes one eat quickly. (Think of restaurants like Red Robin, Applebees, etc... they want you to come in, eat quickly, and get out so they can seat the next group.) Also, I really prefer music without words, because those words compete with table conversation.
So, it is our plan that our weekend dinners are all served this way, with just a little more care and attention to the presentation and content of those meals, candles glowing, enjoying each other's company. And the memories created during those meals? Priceless.
I would love to know about any special dinner time traditions you observe!