Sunday September 15, 2019
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The Dining Table Starts Turning To The DIEning Table, Is Eating Alone Healthy?

Orchestrating a family meal, day after day, was a chore that no one wanted to undertake and so the dining table witnessed a different kind of evolution. It became lonely.

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My version of a happy home is as delineated through my own experiences, so I am less than amused by this change. It is here that my perceptions of the halcyon days gone by conflicts with today's reality. Pixabay

I have grown up in a typical Punjabi household. The place was Patiala. During the peak of any season, our oddly planned, 50’s built house would be such a cacophony… the din

created by us all…family members of all age groups and sizes. For a child, the craze in those days was that of play, play and more play interspersed with food, food and more food.

And this household had generosity writ all over it. A buzzing, bustling kitchen with Biji (grandmother) ruling the roost, her palpable charm and grace was always as warm as the
sugar laden tea she offered you first thing, should you be our guest on any day, forget just a good day!

Sunday was the day for special indulgences where brunch was almost always outsourced Poori Chana Aloo (fat be damned) from Mota Halwai. Sonorous conversations happened
around the dining table. Eating together was therapeutic too because a lot of problems were solved across kitchen counters and dining tables.

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We sat at that table for hours, far beyond the meals, just talking and laughing. The benefits went beyond health. It was nourishment of the soul and the body alike.
Pixabay

We had it all. Our generation, and the ones before us. We may not have had the sophisticated gadgetry of today’s times nor did we have the knowledge of the world on our finger tips but we did have our own small happy world knit together. We sat at that table for hours, far beyond the meals, just talking and laughing. The benefits went beyond health. It was nourishment of the soul and the body alike.

The dining table was then the deciding table. Indeed.

Nothing changed in my world as I graduated from my teens to my 20’s except the fact that I was now married with children. Life in the 90’s was simpler. Sunday was still an open
house… a family and friends communion of sorts. Feasts became larger because the number of loved ones grew tremendously. And since the humble mixie could no more churn out the humongous lassi portions fast enough, it was irrefutably replaced with a dedicated washing machine with its rattling rhythmic buzz, perched right within the large kitchen.

Yes you heard it right. To churn lassi in bucketfuls. Sounds like privileges that are beyond the ordinary? Stuff that legends are made of probably! Even if it was just one big cauldron of home cooked mutton curry served with a “never-counted-never-ending” supply of tandoori rotis and raita, there was always more than enough for everyone. Those were the days when the dining table had enough scratches on it to prove that it had been a witness to countless feasts and fights, drinks and the drunk, the romance of meals à deux, love and lovers, in different measures. We may not have had it all together, but together, we had it all.

The dining table became the defining table. Indeed.

But that was then when life was comparatively simpler and eating together was the centrepoint of the day. The turn of the century turned the tables, literally and figuratively. The size of the family started to shrink as did the size of its generosity. Best friends and cousins were non grudgingly replaced with gadgets and communication was now happening via Skype and video chats. Visits became few and far fetched.

food
Dinners saw less and less of “you have to
eat all vegetables” kind of phrases and not many young mothers seemed to be sourcing recipes for Bottle Gourd or Panjiri anymore. Pixabay

Orchestrating a family meal, day after day, was a chore that no one wanted to undertake and so the dining table witnessed a different kind of evolution. It became lonely. Just like
the people who were eating on it somedays. The table was now mostly used as a work station, the laptop siting on it, once too often. Where once food garnered positivity and
camaraderie, now the simple, neatly laid out daily meals were replaced with quick “on the go” breakfasts and “at work” lunches. Dinners saw less and less of “you have to
eat all vegetables” kind of phrases and not many young mothers seemed to be sourcing recipes for Bottle Gourd or Panjiri anymore.

The parental engagement fostered around the table was fast depleting. Did we even need a full-fledged dining table? The practical acceptance of its now defunct utility and
importance was directly related to the disappearance of the family size and family meals. It was no more the centre of distribution for anything at all.

And the dining table started to be the DIEning table instead. Indeed.

My version of a happy home is as delineated through my own experiences, so I am less than amused by this change. It is here that my perceptions of the halcyon days gone by conflicts with today’s reality. When my children left home to pursue their dreams and lives, the first thing that felt really different was the dining table. My shared meals became limited to the Langar (community meals in gurdwaras) and social events. Food has always defined my existence and our mutual love for each other often evokes wistful sentiments of a once full family life.

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With an increasing focus on eating food that benefits our health, we have definitely moved towards nutritionally better meals but from a psychological perspective, is eating alone healthy? Healthy enough? No amounts of supplements can infuse a rush of endorphins, like a happy chatter around the dinner table can. Once the unifier, the table stands alone
today. When did it become just a piece of furniture really? Maybe it’s time to create a home, all over again, around the diening table. One meal at a time.

And bring it back to life! After all there is nothing half as good as a household bonding over a meal. (IANS)

Next Story

Find out The Must-Try Dishes In Israel

The country is home to a wide variety of cafés, which offer range of cuisines from Arabic, European to Asian

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Israel, Food, Cuisine, Travel, Must try
The country is home to a wide variety of cafés, which offer range of cuisines from Arabic, European to Asian. Wikimedia Commons

If your travel itinerary is based on your taste buds, then Israel is your dream destination. The country is home to a wide variety of cafés, which offer range of cuisines from Arabic, European to Asian.

This food is blessed by the Mediterranean sun and topped off with garnishes of crisp fruits, nuts and vegetables. The fresh dairy products and meats are a great reason to feast upon.

Israel, Food, Cuisine, Travel, Must try
Falafel is a vey famous Israeli dish. Wikimedia Commons

IANS Life picks out some must-try dishes in Israel :-

Challah – A Jewish ceremonial bread, braided and brushed with egg white and baked to perfection

Sabich – Pita pockets stuffed to the brim with crispy fried eggplant, hardboiled egg, creamy hummus and tahini, along with salad and pickles. The sandwich is an absolute favourite among locals and a top pick street food, when you’re in Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem Bagel – Unlike typical bagels, this one is elongated, soft, slightly sweet and similar to regular bread. Vendors sell freshly baked Jerusalem Bagels all over the streets of the Old City, usually accompanied with some za’atar

Bourekas – Similar to the Indian samosa, potato, cheese or spinach stuffed triangles of filo-dough, topped with toasted sesame seeds. Head to Leon and Sons in Jaffa for a taste of this flaky treat.

Israel, Food, Cuisine, Travel, Must try
Early-Morning Scene in Mahane Yehuda Market – Jerusalem – Israel. Wikimedia Commons

Khachapuri – This traditional Georgian dish in Mahane Yehuda Market is made with eggs and cheese is combined in an eye shaped dough. Dip the outer crust in the rich and oozing centre of egg and cheese.

Rugelach – Made with chocolate, cinnamon, raisins, walnuts or fruits. Head to Marzipan Bakery in Jerusalem to dig into this oozing chocolate filled delight.

Sambusak – Mashed chickpeas, onions and spices wrapped in a triangular dough pocket. For an Indian style sambusak, visit Tandoor in Tel Aviv.

Shakshuka – Shakshuka is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, sweet and spicy peppers and is often spiced with cumin and topped off with freshly cut herbs. Head to Dr. Shakshuka and swipe your bread across the pan to pick up the runny egg drenched sauce.

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Halva – Israel is known for its incredible variety of halvas made with sesame.

Ash Tanur – A sourdough flatbread, made without yeast and sugar and best eaten with some fresh local herbs and spices.

Fresh juices – From the juicy pomegranates to citrusy oranges, Israel prides itself on serving fresh and flavourful juices. Tamara is one of the many popular juice stands in Tel Aviv. (IANS)