March 2, 2010

The Way to Eat

I was out eating breakfast the other day and saw something important, I think. All around me were my fellow Americans, busily eating and reading newspapers or working on computers. Virtually everyone was alone, no matter how many people were sitting at the same table. They were all eating rapidly while doing some busy-ness necessary to getting on with their days. Nobody talked to tablemates except those few who clearly were having a breakfast meeting. Minds were on "important" things, not the food in front of them or the people with them.

In walked four people who took a table and got their food. They started talking, which was when I started paying attention, because one doesn't hear many conversations in French in downtown Portland, Oregon. I could tell from the way they dressed and the things they carried that they were in town on business, but they spent most of an hour lingering over their breakfast, laughing and talking and clearly enjoying being with each other at the beginning of their day.

Wouldn't it be better if all meals were like their breakfast? Maybe the people having a power breakfast made more money or closed more deals--maybe they didn't--but at the end of the day, who was likely happier, who had the more rewarding, fulfilling day?

I think I need to eat more meals with family and friends for the pleasure of their company and fewer meals for fuel. I think we all do.


  1. We are all to busy to enjoy. I have worked around food all my life but rarely enjoy it while working. I tend to inhale my meals so I can get back to work.
    As expensive restaurants go they do accomplish one thing. They force you to slow down and enjoy the experience of dining.

  2. Well said! I am always reading some book or other about the way the French eat. It is a fascinating subject. It is about so much more than just the food.

  3. I take time to enjoy each meal of the day, and as often as possible with friends. I never work while eating - it is a rule of mine.

  4. I always notice this too. I feel it should be commonplace to take the time to enjoy food as well as other things, but, the thing is, it's almost socially unacceptable here to take a moment to eat well or enjoy something. One is considered odd or even lazy if this is done from the hours of 8-6.