All food has a story; the story ‘behind the plate’.
Whether it is obvious or not, each dish we eat, each forkful of food we bring to our mouth has intent or meaning; something to tell us about ourselves, its maker, or its surrounding culture. Its creation has occurred as an equation of geography and culture, expectation and availability. Each dish is a resolution.
While ‘eating’ can be mundane, ‘dining’ is about connection. It’s about taking time out from our busy world to reconnect with others, to share and listen to conversation, to try to understand, or even to value someone else’s commitment to making the meal. Memories are heightened by our senses; the sensual savouring of the sight, smell and aromas of food being prepared, the presentation and surroundings of where it is served, its flavour and texture.
Some of the most important moments in our lives happen around a meal table. Whether they be small, meaningful conversations or important celebrations, those times are often milestones celebrated with food and drink.
Good food brings families together. Each family has its own food rituals. Many families gather for the Sunday roast or special celebrations. For us, it was Saturday lunch; the time when family history was made.
Dining weaves important moments together to form the fabric of our lives. Conversations take place, decisions are cemented and family history is made. Take away the ritual, and the weave starts to loosen.
Those who travel realise that a particular dish can trigger memories, causing us to recall a precise time, place or conversation, as if the moment is frozen in time.
To migrants, familiar aromas remind them of their former homeland. Though they may remain lifelong ‘travellers’ between two places, sharing cultural dishes and stories can maintain ties to family and lead to cultural awareness and understanding.
We plan to bring you some tales of dishes, cuisines and regions, chefs and restaurateurs as we unveil the stories ‘Behind the Plate’.
What are the dishes that remind you of home? How do you maintain your own family culture through the way you dine?
NOTE: Published in The Sun, November 1, 2017.