Today I would like to spend a few words to talk about a topic that is not often mentioned, but is in my opinion very important: dining experience. If you have travelled to France or Italy, I am sure you had a chance to eat in a restaurant and I am sure that among many other memories, you had one dinner or lunch that you remember as a great meal. I am sure you have probably tried to replicate that same experience once you got home, but it was never the same. Something was missing. What is is? How can we recreate that? Well answering these questions is not simple, but there are three basic concepts that I would like to explore today with you. Each one of them represents an important element of what I call “dining experience”.
It might sound stupid and simple, but the table is the center of attention. Starting from how it looks: table cloth, silverware, proper glasses, a nice centerpiece, napkins, maybe some candles, everything is prepared to express a welcoming feeling, to invite the guests to sit down and relax. The center of attention is the table, what is being served and who is sitting at it. Think about it as an event, a movie or show at the theater. It is not a written rule of course, but it is kind of a mindset that people grow up with. Time stops and all that exits is now that table.
Give the meal the appropriate amount of time. Do not rush. There is a difference between eating and dining. According to Merriam-Webster the verb “to eat” is defined as “to take in through the mouth as food” while “to dine” is defined as “to take dinner”. Already in the definition you can clearly see the difference. Eating is focusing on the action of putting food in your mouth to supply your body with energy, while dining is focusing on the event. The event is more than just eating. We are enjoying the food and wine as well as the company of our guests. This is why the meal is divided into different courses and there is time in between them. The goal is to give each course the proper attention and allow enough time to enjoy it while talking with the people at the table. Each course is like a verse in a song. Slow is the key word. You cannot enjoy music if you play it at fast speed and same is with food and wine.
As I already mentioned, usually a meal is divided into different courses. An appetizer, a first course, a main course with a side and a dessert. This of course not a rule, but again it is part of that same mindset. It is almost like going to watch a movie. It is all about the experience. Every course is given the right amount of attention and regardless of how many courses you have, it is interesting to notice that the goal of each course is not to fill you up completely, but leave you with enough space for the next one. That is why a lot of time the portions are a little smaller.
I hope you enjoyed this article and since it is the last one for this year, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! I hope your 2019 will be full of joy, happiness, great food and great wines!