Do you ever sit down as a family at the table eating together? You know the rest, I presume – no TV, phones or miscellaneous electronic gadgets.
Actually, these days it’s hard enough to get a table to do the same in a restaurant, let alone at home. In a restaurant, it seems deregeur to take photos of everything, which means everyone’s phone is in use – and then there’s texting, etc. I sometimes wonder if people have lost the ability to communicate except through their phones and are actually texting each other at the table.
But back to home meals – I was brought up in an era where not only was the TV in the sitting room, but it wasn’t turned on until Mum had her afternoon break (to watch “Days of our Lives”). Actually, that was one of those shows that no one ever watched – except if you travelled down the streets at 3.30pm Mon-Fri almost every sitting room had its blinds down – closet “Days of our Lives” watchers.
Anyway, as usual, I digress – back to the family at table. We broke bread, as the saying goes, three times a day. Admittedly, we lived in a small town and all came home for lunch (including my father, who was a school principal). And, this was where important matters, or some not so important, were discussed. Whether it be the state of the nation, the local footy coach’s prowess or lack of it and, in Rugby season, the beloved All Blacks and who we thought should be the First Five or Captain this year and whether my Uncle Ian (who was a coach/selector of Taranaki) was doing the right thing in selecting Keven Brisco as half back instead of Roger Urbahn, who the All Black selectors preferred. Not mind boggling stuff, but we did also discuss serious family matters when need be. And, as surveys have proven – we ate far more fruit and vegies than is currently the norm and less fatty food, mainly because the content of the meal was pre-set, the produce was either home grown or from within the area and was always seasonal, because plain and simply that was all that was available.
Now, of course, few families could eat together three times a day. And, don’t need to. With our super busy lifestyles (and keeping in mind that, in my day, our Mums rarely worked or if they did – not full time), it just isn’t practical. But, it has been proven that a family that sits down to breakfast together starts the day with an advantage – my father always said that the morning conversation got the brain working – and also we should keep in mind that breakfast is said by nutritionists to be one of the most important meals of the day.
But, I would like to add to that at least a couple of evening meals a week together. A doctor friend told me that his children take it in turns to prepare an evening meal using a produce home delivery service (plus their normal family meals) and he insists that all electronic nonsense, as he calls it, is turned off. He feels that he now learns things about his kids that he wouldn’t have learnt before their family dinner became part of the family routine and that their school grades have improved over this period too. This may sound like a bit of a stretch, but recent surveys have found this to be the case – interaction with the family group at the table improves the school activities.
And, just out of interest, do you remember the blackmail that our mothers used to make us eat our greens?
“If you don’t finish that (bloody awful overcooked) spinach, you won’t get any apple pie.”
We, of course, stuck to our guns, didn’t we – and ate the spinach?
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THE REAL DEAL SPAGHETTI CARBONARA
Originally a dish of the charcoal workers of Rome, it was highly popular with American troops stationed in Rome after World War II. It was they who added cream to the recipe when they introduced it into the States.
First of all, cook a good handful of spaghetti until al dente. Chop 4 slices pancetta and fry in olive oil with a dollop of butter in a large pan. Remove and put on a warm plate.
Then add freshly ground pepper and 2 tbsp pasta water to the pan juices and swirl.
At the same time, beat together 2 small egg yolks with 1 whole egg and 2 heaped tbsp grated pecorino in a large bowl. Then add 2 spoons of the pasta water and mix until creamy.
Add the drained pasta to the pan with the pancetta and toss to heat and combine well. Then add to the egg mixture in the bowl and, once again, toss very well.
Serve with extra grated pecorino sprinkled on top.
Who Is Iain “Huey” Hewitson
Born 4 October 1948 (age 69)
Otaki, New Zealand
Iain “Huey” Hewitson (born 4 October 1948 in Otaki), is a New Zealand-born chef, restaurateur, author, and television personality who moved to Australia in 1972. He is best known for his television involvement with Network Ten. He was also the face of supermarket chain BI-LO.
image for illustration only.