A meal, normally – at least most I have been familiar with – do not last more than 30 minutes, with the first 20 probably trying to call everyone to the table and then messing about with plates and cutlery, etc., then 10 minutes to wolf it down and then back to whatever we were individually doing again.
I suspect that this is the same story for a lot of people, that’s why when I first heard from a French friend that every Sunday his family gather in their kitchen and start cooking from around 10 or 11am and then start eating around noon and that the meal actually habitually extends to 5 or 6pm I was skeptical to start with, but then the more we chatted that skepticism turned to incredulity; “How much can these people eat?” and another more urgent question was “What the hell do they talk about for all of that time, and they are family!”
That was a few years ago, Daniel Esperanza has since gone back to Paris and we did cross paths at exhibitions once or twice. He probably does not remember that conversation but I do, as it stuck in my mind since. I continued to have hurried meals, with probably the longest at the table being our traditional Eid and Christmas dinners – those extend to about an hour, max.
Last night, Frances and I approximated Daniel’s experience and we both rather enjoyed it.
We were fortunate enough to be invited to a special dinner by our friend Ian Fisher (yes, the one and only!) to the ChaÃ®ne des RÃ´tisseurs function which this time was held at the Diplomat’s Kontiki restaurant. The chefs have excelled in creating a Pacific Extravaganza consisting of eight courses for us to enjoy which in itself was a wonderful journey through which we savored the culinary delights of the region.
The food was good of course as was its presentation; however, what made that a much better experience was the people, the conversations, the new friends all of which contributed greatly to a fantastic atmosphere and made time fly. Four hours of chatting and eating felt like not more than 30 minutes!
Now I know what Daniel was talking about and I believe him. I look forward to recreating this experience at home and abroad often. The experience taught me that food was not just for eating; it also serves as a catalyst for building and maintaining good relationships. That cannot happen in a hurry.
Frances and I wish to thank Ian and Rosemary for their hospitality and hope that we can return the favour one day.