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Dinner at the Family Table (and Couch and Bed and Laptop...)
It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking there's a Right Way to do everything. For example, dinner. I know I am under the impression that families are supposed to eat dinner like so: arranged around the perfectly set table, chatting about the day, eating a freshly-prepared meal composed of locally-grown vegetables and exotic spices that everyone is happy to try. This is not my dinner reality. Then again, it's not the dinner reality of anyone I know, either.
The gorgeous photography of Miho Aikawa, however, has me thinking that maybe that's totally okay. Her series "Dinner in NY" captures people having dinner the way they actually have dinner. A twenty-something woman has leftovers on her bed, watching television. A cat begs at the table for pizza. A young mother balances food on her lap while waving a toy at her newborn. A teenager eats alone, staring at her laptop. The photos are amazingly intimate portraits of people being themselves, and I can't stop clicking through them. What struck me most was how very many people eat while watching TV or using their laptops. And when I thought about it, I was honestly surprised to realize that I often eat this way too.
As Aikawa writes on her website, "we now do almost 50 percent of our eating while concentrating on something else." Here, I admit, I expected a mini-lecture on how we need to talk to each other more, focus on food and family more. We've heard all this before, and we know it, of course. I loved that Aikawa instead writes, "I would like to propose thinking what a dinner should be by objectively seeing diverse dinner situations. When you enjoy mealtimes, you're more likely to eat better. Let's think what we can do to enhance the pleasure of the table." Here's a dinnertime message we can all use: not a finger-wagging, but a call to action. She's not saying any one way of eating is better than any other, just that we should enjoy our mealtimes. Some of these distracted eaters seem a little zoned-out, but some (a smiling group of friends eating and watching television together) seem to be having a really wonderful time. And in the end, isn't that what a shared meal is all about?
Check out all of Aikawa's wonderful portraits at her site. (via TheKitchn)
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