FacebookTwitter
Hatrack River Forum Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Mealtime: an inquiry

   
Author Topic: Mealtime: an inquiry
Sterling
Member
Member # 8096

 - posted      Profile for Sterling   Email Sterling         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
So, I read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food a while back, and one of the more surprising (to me) assertions I found within is that the American family very rarely sits together to eat a single communal dinner anymore, at least according to food industry studies. Instead, people eat in front of the television, they eat in the car; one parent eats macaroni and cheese, another a diet tv dinner, the child microwaves a pizza, and while people might be at a dinner table together for some portion of things, there's no real organized "meal time" with people committing to stay together and share food over a particular period of time.

I must admit that I found this very surprising. I know I'm very fortunate in having a certain amount of schedule flexibility (I do most of the meal cooking in our home), and that with two jobs, soccer practice, piano lessons, etc., it can be very difficult to actually find an hour every day for everyone to gather and eat food and be assured that everyone is eating something vaguely nutritious, let alone the time to cook anything that's much more complicated than "drop into boiling water, add seasoning packet." But dinner was pretty important to my family growing up, and it's remained important to me now that I have my own family; I don't think I'd really thought that what I do was some kind of vaguely antiquated idyllic ritual.

I'm curious if anyone is willing to share what their experiences of "dinner" are like in their home. Is this really something that's vanishing in a storm of full schedules and convenience foods, half-snack/half-meals eaten in front of the television, computer, or game console?

Posts: 3825 | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
steven
Member
Member # 8099

 - posted      Profile for steven   Email steven         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I usually eat standing up in the kitchen, or sitting in front of my computer. I eat sit down meals with others maybe twice a year, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'm not usually eating what everyone else is, so it's not even an issue. I might occasionally share some fruit with a girlfriend at her home, that's about as close as I get to a shared meal at home.
Posts: 3285 | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Belle
Member
Member # 2314

 - posted      Profile for Belle   Email Belle         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
In my household we still have dinner with a meal that everyone eats at the table at the same time. The TV is turned down or off and we talk.

This happens every day except Friday during high school football season when we wind up eating at the game or fast food on the way.

Posts: 14428 | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
King of Men
Member
Member # 6684

 - posted      Profile for King of Men   Email King of Men         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
We eat together something like - informal estimate - 70% of the time. But we read at the table. [Smile]
Posts: 10645 | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mr_porteiro_head
Member
Member # 4644

 - posted      Profile for mr_porteiro_head   Email mr_porteiro_head         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
We have dinner together at least 6 days out of the week.
Posts: 16551 | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Samprimary
Member
Member # 8561

 - posted      Profile for Samprimary   Email Samprimary         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Our family had meals on average about 3 times a week, whether at home or in restaurants.
Posts: 15417 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Dobbie
Member
Member # 3881

 - posted      Profile for Dobbie           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
We can't have dinner together. We don't all like the same TV shows.
Posts: 1794 | Registered: Jul 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
dabbler
Member
Member # 6443

 - posted      Profile for dabbler   Email dabbler         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
At home my father and I would eat dinner together while my mom made sure everything was prepared and we had what we needed. She would usually eat leftovers afterwards.

Now in my late 20s I usually watch TV with my boyfriend while we eat dinner (House, Castle, Dollhouse, ST:TNG, whatever) or I raid in WoW while I eat.

Posts: 1260 | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Armoth
Member
Member # 4752

 - posted      Profile for Armoth   Email Armoth         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
When I was in highschool, my family would eat and watch together in the den with tv trays. We frequently pause and discuss. Other people hate watching with us.

Now, I eat and watch with my sisters, my parents eat and watch on their own.

The whole family gets together for Sabbath lunch and dinner, and then usually again for BBQ or something of that sort on Sunday evening.

I think I ALWAYS do a meal and tv. It's my relaxation time during the day.

Posts: 1604 | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
scholarette
Member
Member # 11540

 - posted      Profile for scholarette           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I have a toddler, so that might affect it, but we pretty much eat dinner together every night. For lunch, my daughter and I eat at the table together when she is home. If she is at school or a friend's, then I eat on the couch. Unfortunately, the tv is usually still on, though we are trying to phase that out. We watch Caillou or Kai-lan or PBS Sprout. My husband and I usually talk about our day and ask Bin questions, which she gives random answers to (did you have fun at school? I want my cupcake shirt but mommy is cleaning it and now it's drying but it should be done soon).
Posts: 2223 | Registered: Mar 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Shanna
Member
Member # 7900

 - posted      Profile for Shanna   Email Shanna         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I live alone so I eat alone. Though sometimes I'll eat with my neighbor-friends but we eat on the couch because neither of our apartments are big enough for dining tables.

Growing up we always had family dinners. There were days of course where my mom didn't have time to cook. She'd announce that everyone had to "fend for themselves" but even so, while we might have all made different things to eat for ourselves, we'd still eat together. The tv in the next room was turned on but we'd still talk and hang out together.

Its a style I will absolutely adopt with my own family, should I have one one day.

Posts: 1733 | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tatiana
Member
Member # 6776

 - posted      Profile for Tatiana   Email Tatiana         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My son and I usually eat dinner together with no TV. I think that it's good for nutrition, conversation, and family harmony to do that, plus it's sociable and fun. I always liked our family dinners growing up. It's something my family always did. It seems to me to be something that promotes family cohesion and just is a good thing all around. Usually eating together involves cooking together or for each other, and it has all the symbolism of breaking bread and so on. It's a way to say "I love you" when you clear off the table, set it with nice dishes and things, and put some delicious food on there for us to eat together. I like lighting the candles too if it's dark outside. Plus that gets into the whole fun pyromania stuff we enjoy as a family. =) It's probably not that good for your lungs, though, to breathe the smoke from the candles. It has a lot of hearth symbolism, though, to have actual fire at the dinner table. I'm totally all about the symbolism. =)
Posts: 6245 | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
theresa51282
Member
Member # 8037

 - posted      Profile for theresa51282   Email theresa51282         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My family almost always has dinner together at the dining room table. We don't have a set time but eat when my husband gets home from work. For breakfast I usually eat while doing a chore while my daughter eats at the table. My toddler and I do have lunch together every day. I use the time to make sure I give her focused attention. Occasionally I'll leave music on but mostly we talk.
Posts: 416 | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bella Bee
Member
Member # 7027

 - posted      Profile for Bella Bee   Email Bella Bee         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Growing up, five or six nights a week dinner would be eaten at the table in the dining room. We ate late (about 9.30) so everyone could be there.
TV was in the kitchen where we couldn't actually see it, volume turned down to a low hum.
It was nice and a good chance to discuss and talk. I don't think I would know my parents as well as I do if it hadn't been for that tradition.
Friday we were all doing different things, so we'd eat supper in front of the TV.

At uni, our kitchen was tiny, so TV dinners were the only option.
Now, sharing a flat with non-existent TV reception, I eat at the kitchen table with whoever is around, or read a book.

Posts: 1528 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
CaySedai
Member
Member # 6459

 - posted      Profile for CaySedai   Email CaySedai         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I work evening shift (about 2-10:30 p.m.) five nights a week. My kids are teens, so we have easy to prepare foods. They usually don't eat the same thing (or even at the same time) unless they are sharing a pizza, for example.

The other two nights I rarely feel like cooking, so we often scramble to find something and may end up eating different things at different times those nights, as well. One of those nights is church night, and one of my girls doesn't participate, so she's at home while the other daughter and I go into town.

So to sum up, my family rarely eats together and never in a sit-down-at-the-table meal. And yes, I know I should try harder.

Posts: 2034 | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
paigereader
Member
Member # 2274

 - posted      Profile for paigereader   Email paigereader         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Growing up, my mom made dinner and we ate at the table. Exception being some Sunday nights eating pizza (with milk, yuck) while watching That's Incredible!
My husband and I eat a real meal in front of the tv.
edit to add: My husband and I work together so there is not really any catch up of the day's events.

[ October 08, 2009, 11:58 AM: Message edited by: paigereader ]

Posts: 204 | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Jhai
Member
Member # 5633

 - posted      Profile for Jhai   Email Jhai         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Growing up, when I was living with my mom, the two of us always grazed out of the fridge, typically while reading or watching TV (sometimes sitting at the table, sometimes not). So we'd grab soup that Mom made earlier, or have some apples and cheese and microwave popcorn, or what have you. Normally we'd eat at roughly the same time.

When I lived with Dad while in high school, it was grab as you can, since everyone in the household had a busy schedule. Lots of nights of cold cereal after marching band practice or swim team or whatever for me. About every two weeks we'd have what I think of as a typical Midwestern dinner - a big hunk of meat, some salad, steamed veggies, rolls, etc.

Now with my husband, the two of us mostly eat sitting at the couch - our first year in DC we didn't have a dining room table, so it's sorta become habit to eat in the living room while watching a movie or TV. When his parents are staying with us over the summer, we have a sit-down meal every night, which really throws me off kilter.

Posts: 2409 | Registered: Sep 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
dkw
Member
Member # 3264

 - posted      Profile for dkw   Email dkw         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I don't understand the idea of leaving the TV on in another room or leaving it on and turning the volume down. Why not just turn it off?

Edit: That is not a rhetorical "I don't understand" -- I really don't get it. [Confused]

Posts: 9866 | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Noemon
Member
Member # 1115

 - posted      Profile for Noemon   Email Noemon         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Dkw, that's always been kind of a puzzle to me too. My ex used to do that (and still does, I'm sure). The first thing she'd do when she came home was turn on the TV, and she had a really difficult time falling asleep if it wasn't playing. She said that she just liked the background noise of it. I suspect that whether you like that or not has a lot to do with whether the TV was on constantly when you were a small child.

In my family, the TV was only on when we were specifically watching something, and was rarely even the focus of the evening. The buisness of having the TV always be on was pretty trying for me when I got married, and since the divorce I simply haven't watched TV, probably in direct response to having gotten enough of it to last a lifetime over the years of my marriage.

In answer to the OP, when I was growing up we always had dinner together around the table between six and seven times a week. After my brother went to college and I was in high school this pattern wasn't as strong, but we still had dinner together more often than not. When I was married we mostly ate in front of the TV. Since I've been single I eat by myself most of the time, usually in front of the computer. On the weekends I eat with my girlfriend, and we virtually always eat at the table. Food's kind of a big deal with us, and after spending a couple of hours in the kitchen preparing something interesting together, it seems like a shame not to sit down and have it be our focus while we eat it.

If we just get pizza or something we're more likely to watch something on DVD while we eat.

Posts: 16059 | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
BlackBlade
Member
Member # 8376

 - posted      Profile for BlackBlade   Email BlackBlade         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My apartment is too small for the dining table Mrs. BB and I were given when we got married. Currently we usually sit together and watch something on TV. When we have children and a bigger apartment we will probably have everyone eat at least dinner together.

My father often got home later than 5-6pm so he could not always eat dinner with us growing up. Now that I think about it, while my mother often made us come up to eat dinner a the same time that was not always the case, especially when I was in high school. Sunday we always had one meal together as a family, you didn't miss that meal or come late.

Posts: 14316 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kwea
Member
Member # 2199

 - posted      Profile for Kwea   Email Kwea         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Growing up we always had dinner together, in the dining room off the kitchen. Sometimes, maybe 3-5 times a month, my dad would be working too late and we would eat wihtout him, but most of the time we waited.


My wife works 11:30 - 8pm, and that makes dinner hard for us. Sometimes I wait for her, only to find out that she had a late "lunch" at work. Most often we go get something, and I am a fan of sitting down to eat together, regardless of where you sit.

Posts: 15081 | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
PSI Teleport
Member
Member # 5545

 - posted      Profile for PSI Teleport   Email PSI Teleport         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
We used to eat dinner together every night, but now that our "together" time has shifted to the noon meal, because of my husband's work schedule, I find that we do it a lot less often. I'm working on remedying that.

But, FTR, I almost never eat at the same time that my family does, because I hate being interrupted in my eating to get things for the kids. So I eat while I'm cooking, then "sit" with the family while they eat. And by "sit" I mean get up and down constantly for twenty minutes.

Posts: 6366 | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Eaquae Legit
Member
Member # 3063

 - posted      Profile for Eaquae Legit   Email Eaquae Legit         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
For me, it is one of the great joys of married life that I will always have someone else to sit down and eat with. I love the act of preparing food together, and I love the conversation and the comraderie of a shared meal. Dinner parties are awesome.

When I was living in the shared uni res house, there were surprisingly few people who caught on that if they sat and ate with me, I would feed them.

Posts: 2849 | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Teshi
Member
Member # 5024

 - posted      Profile for Teshi   Email Teshi         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My family has meal time three times a day, seven days a week, provided we're home. The only thing that changes is who's present. Even breakfast, although it might have people eating at different speeds, usually involves people at the same table.

Living alone, I usually eat in front of the computer. My roommate and I discuss our food while we're cooking, but we never sit down to eat meals or cook together.

quote:

But, FTR, I almost never eat at the same time that my family does, because I hate being interrupted in my eating to get things for the kids. So I eat while I'm cooking, then "sit" with the family while they eat. And by "sit" I mean get up and down constantly for twenty minutes.

I'm not sure how old your family is, but you need to get them trained, pronto. My mother cooks pretty frequently, but if she cooks she never does fetch and carry from the kitchen. That's everyone else's job. Make sure that once your kids are old enough that you train them up to do this. Don't just do stuff because you're used to it.
Posts: 8473 | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Raymond Arnold
Member
Member # 11712

 - posted      Profile for Raymond Arnold   Email Raymond Arnold         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think my family ate dinner together something like half the time, usually because one or more of us have an evening activity.
Posts: 4136 | Registered: Aug 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
PSI Teleport
Member
Member # 5545

 - posted      Profile for PSI Teleport   Email PSI Teleport         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
I'm not sure how old your family is, but you need to get them trained, pronto. My mother cooks pretty frequently, but if she cooks she never does fetch and carry from the kitchen. That's everyone else's job. Make sure that once your kids are old enough that you train them up to do this. Don't just do stuff because you're used to it.
That's not why I do it. [Smile] I know I sounded really crappy about being "forced" to get up and down during the meal, but that's not the issue. I just don't like to be interrupted in the process of eating. However, serving during the meal is something I enjoy doing. So I eat first, rather than last.
Posts: 6366 | Registered: Aug 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tatiana
Member
Member # 6776

 - posted      Profile for Tatiana   Email Tatiana         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Noemon, I had a roommate one quarter in college who kept the tv on constantly from early morning to late at night. I went insane. Since then I've never watched tv. I got enough for a whole lifetime during that quarter. [Smile]
Posts: 6245 | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lissande
Member
Member # 350

 - posted      Profile for Lissande   Email Lissande         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My mother-in-law does the eat separately, hop up and down from table during the meal thing. It kind of gets on my nerves, frankly, because I think it's more sociable to eat at the same time, and also because she spends the whole meal watching you like a hawk, observing every bite you take and making you go on and on about how good it is...sometimes before you've even had a chance to taste it. [Smile]

At our house we eat the same thing at the same time but usually in the living room in front of the TV because apparently my husband is allergic to the dining table and having the TV turned off makes him twitchy. So, you know, whatever...

Posts: 2762 | Registered: Sep 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Uprooted
Member
Member # 8353

 - posted      Profile for Uprooted   Email Uprooted         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It's just me and my elderly mom and we often eat dinner together. When we do, it's generally at the kitchen or dining room table with the TV off. Sometimes we do eat in the living room w/ the TV on, but that's definitely the exception.

I was raised with family dinner in the dining room every night at roughly 6pm, no TV. (note: tiny kitchen, no table in there--"dining room" was nothing formal)

When I had roommates I was always the one organizing dinners w/ friends over and stuff. I think sitting around the table at mealtime is one of the great comforts of life. I know family schedules are a lot crazier now than they were when I was a child, but if I had kids I'd have family dinners as consistently as possible.

Posts: 3149 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Hank
Member
Member # 8916

 - posted      Profile for Hank   Email Hank         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
As a nanny, I've actually had the chance to see a lot of different families' eating habits, either by working with them, or by doing trials (a kind of job interview for nannies where you visit their home and stay or a few days to see how you mesh).

Out of 10 families I feel comfortable commenting on, 2 never ate together, and three usually did, while the rest did so only rarely.

Posts: 368 | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Elizabeth
Member
Member # 5218

 - posted      Profile for Elizabeth   Email Elizabeth         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My husband works at night most of the time, so we usually eat together on the nights we are all together.

The kids are involved in activities and work that, most often, take place at different times.

Neither child has suffered in any way from this.

Posts: 10890 | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2