Saturday, June 6, 2015


Dinner Table Manners

date night last week

One of my favourite things about Asian culture is communal eating. Family members sitting around the dining table, feasting, talking and laughing. This evening once again, the entire extended family will be gathered for homemade popiah, laksa and thai chicken wings. I thought it was appropriate to reflect about meal times for today's edition of Saturdays.

On average J.G. and I share about 10 meals a week. A simple, quick breakfast in the mornings before work. One home-cooked meal. One date night, which we both look forward to every week. We make it a point to go to our parents' place one a week as well. These are a few non-negotiables from the earliest meals I remember having as a child.

a. Conversation please

When we dine out, we see too many couples, young children, teens fixated on their screens during meal times. It's almost the same thing as two strangers eating side by side in a fast food joint. There's no eye contact. No conversation. No point.

We make it a point to talk at meal times. At times we share about the usual things that happen in our day, other times we discuss movies / books / political issues albeit less of the time. Most of the time, we just pick up any random conversation we didn't finish at a previous seating. (This is definitely one of the push factors for marrying the dude)

Suffice to say there are days where we just sit and stare into space out of pure exhaustion. But honestly, having a companion who empathizes, whom you're comfortable sitting in the silence with is itself such a comforting thing.

b. Slow meals

No one rushes to get up after a meal. We eat slowly and linger on long after the actual meal is done. At times with fruits or dessert that follows. Even without, we stay around to talk and laugh.

Many a deep conversation arises organically out of these delays. The meal is slowed further as we stop to listen to one's struggles, feelings or problems. There's a real sense of family when we go through tough times together.

c.  Family first

This was a difficult rule to obey in my teenage years. Countless movie dates, bowling or karaoke nights got overridden by family dinners. There was no room for negotiation, to the extent we stopped bothering to ask for permission after a few years and simply turned our friends down whenever there were clashes.

Now that I'm older, I appreciate this so much more. Whilst peers feel burdened and annoyed having to fulfill the obligatory weekly family dinners, it's more of a habit for me. A habit that I've grown to enjoy and even treasure. Spending time reading with my nephew or rubbing shoulders with my mum in the kitchen.


Isn't there the saying - 'a family that eats together, stays together'? I guess there's a lot of truth in that.

Have you had dinner with your family this week?


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