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The Practical Chef - about food

Dinner With Family

by Craig Nassar on 03/09/12

Dinner with the Family As I look back growing up in the late 60s and 70s, I think about the evening dinners I spent with my 2 sisters, my brother and my Mom and Dad. At the time, I thought-how inconvenient, I wanted to stay out and play or watch some TV, not sit down with the family and discuss the day. Now I think to myself what good times those dinners were. Even if someone was in trouble or there were tense moments, or we were talking about funny things, I think back and say to myself how I miss those dinners. We all talked, or not. The point is we were all together as a family. I felt as though I was part of something, a safety zone so to speak. Not so much free time to possibly get myself in trouble or become brain dead watching TV.  It seems that in this day and age, with both parents working to make ends meet and all the after school activities children are involved in, that due to time restraints the family dinner is something of the past. That to me is sad. I am a private chef now at this point in my life. I have a daughter from my first marriage. She is 14. When Olivia is with Cindy and I, we sit down and have dinner as a family. It would be easier to get up and go out to dinner, but it is just not the same. I find when we sit and eat together at home, its much more relaxed and personal. Great stories are told, I find out what is going in school and understand more about what is going on in my families day to day life each time. It is great. One of the things I am realizing with my business is that other families of my generation are starting to feel the same way. I now have clients who want me to give their teenagers cooking lessons as well as teach them proper table etiquette. My clients are starting to make the effort to sit for dinner as a family and actually try to communicate with their children. It is not every night of the week. Lets face it, our generation does not have as much time as our parents did, but my clients are starting to make the time, even if its couple, three times a week. If we as parents really try we can make some time, even if its just one night a week. It may seem difficult, but the rewards far out weight the down side. With all the social media outlets that our children seem to become involved with, they are losing the ability to socially interact with other people on a personal level. The art of conversation is becoming a lost art. Food and conversation go hand and hand. A family I started working with a few months ago has two children, 14 and 16. The mom wanted me to teach them how to cook, how to shop as well as proper table etiquette. The mom felt the children were seriously lacking in those abilities and felt that if they were to learn them, it would only help them in the future. I have to tell you, her children were not very happy about it. The first few lessons were actually quite difficult. I sat down with the family for quite a few of the family meals and boy the first couple, were quite awkward. As time went by they became easier and easier. Here we are 3 months later and I spoke with their mom this past week and she could not tell me enough how happy she is with the outcome. She said that dinner with the family has actually brought her family closer. I must say that made me very happy to hear. Now, I am not saying you need to hire a private chef to accomplish this. I am saying get back into the routine of dinner with the family. Have everybody participate in the meal, from preparation to clean up. You may have some unhappy kids at first, but in the long run I think you will reap the rewards. Lets not let the times take that away from us. Maybe there are some things we can learn from the 60s and 70s, when we grew up. Those days seemed to be a bit simpler, a bit slower paced. Sit down at home and have dinner with your kids at the dinner table, no TV on, no texting or phone conversations, no iPods, and communicate, person to person. I think you will be very happy with the outcome!