After our day is done and before I travel on to the land of nod, I've been reading a book that is as enchanting as it is informative. Curled up under the duvet I sip my bedtime tea and read this intoxicating book in the gentle glow of my bedside lamp. The book's author, who is a contributor to The New Yorker, has captured my imagination in a way that a writer hasn't in a long while. I've been soaking up the history of eating and the politics, both past and present, which so often seem to land on my plate. MC has been subjected to a whole lot of 'babe, listen to this' whilst attempting to read a bedtime book of his own. Could the life and times of Eddie Merckx really be as interesting as the life and times of food! I wonder what Eddie Merckx favourite dish was on the Tour? My evening read, The Table Comes First, was beautifully written by Adam Gopnik. (Here is an article in the Guardian if you like to review before you view.)
I stumbled across The Table Comes First while perusing the shelves of Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath. The title boldly states, in a head held high to the sky kinda way, that the table should come before all else. Gopnik quotes Fergus Henderson in bold print on the back cover,
'I don't understand how a young couple
can begin life by buying a sofa or a television,
Don't they know the table comes first?'
The table meaning food. Food and where it comes from has become a hot and often contested topic. The book's title caught my eye for two reasons. First, I've been contemplating the state of our dining room table for far too long. The second, and probably most important, is that since hopping the pond to live on this small island I have completely changed the way I eat.
Let's start with the dining room...We have renovated our entire little Victorian terrace. Sanding, painting, knocking down walls! We've done it all! After the paint dried and the dust settled I felt at home in every room in our house except the dining room. I would walk into the dining room and throw up my hands in decorative frustration. What did I want from this room? Cozy family meals. Sophisticated swanky dinners that would impress? A play room for sweet Miss Bea? I think I'm still answering a few of those questions. I expect that as our family evolves the answers to my questions will change. I've come to realise that swanky dinners and toddlers don't naturally go hand in hand!
The one decorative detail that I was sure about is that I wanted a round table. I've wanted a round table for five years and this past month we purchased one. Yeppy! As soon as the rectangle was out and the circle was in I knew I had made the right choice for our little family. I love sitting at round tables. There is something warm and casual about a round table. No one is leading or sitting at the head of the table. There are no sharp angles or views to separate feeling or conversation. At our table each family member resides in a place of equal value. King Arthur's knights didn't sit at a rectangular table now did they! I wonder what King Arthur's favourite meal was?
There is a second and more complicated reason why the book caught my eye. I have gone through a change of pace when it comes to what I eat. When I say 'pace' I don't just mean figuratively! Before moving to this lovely little island I would regularly hop in my car and zoom through the drive thru. My order... a Jr cheeseburger and large diet coke. Just incase you were wondering. These days I walk to our market and the shops nearby. I rarely drive to a supermarket and avoid it whenever possible. The grocery stores have delivery services in the UK which is wonderful!
Food has come to represent a different way of life for me. I no longer 'zoom' I walk. I no longer inhale my food between traffic lights. I share grapes and baguettes with my daughter on our stroll home from the market. Is this important? For me and my family it is. When we discuss moving from our town it is one of the reason that we find to stay. Because you know its not the weather that keeps us here!!! I've come to enjoy food at a slower pace and I say this from a place of surprise, humility and gratitude. I think that is the best way to sit down at any table where you are offered a place.
|Bea 'cooking' her play dough...|