Thursday, August 5, 2010
Eat, Drink & Be Merry at Home
Growing up in my grandparents’ strict household in the province, I didn’t understand why meal times was dedicated solely to eating when there were many other things we could do to make it more fun like sit cross-legged, watch TV, listen to music, read comics etc.
It was a long wooden dining table that my three sisters and I shared with Lolo Ping, Lola Cobay, eldest Auntie Juliet, youngest Uncle Pupu, beauty queen cousin Ate Coring, plus the househelp du jour. We brought only ourselves to the table and left only when our plates were as clean as when we started eating with spoon and fork on one side. Then we’d go about our individual tasks of clearing the table, washing the dishes, sweeping and mopping the floor - the dining room would be spotless with nary a trace of the feeding frenzy that just took place. Nobody was late lest he/she forfeits the meal altogether because although there was always enough food… there was never any left over.
Despite the protocols, our meals were full of animated chatter. Lolo Ping with his snooty American nose always ate with his back straight – his lips would break into a mischievous snicker when he delivers his killer one liners. Ate Coring was a demure colegiala who never went on dates without a chaperone – but all poise fly out the window as she cracks the craziest jokes on the table. Being “the fat kid”, I was always the last to finish (thus the absence of leftovers) constantly amazing them all with my storage capacity. With her twinkling eyes, my Lola Cobay often clutched her belly in laughter.
When my lolo died, we gradually dispersed. My sisters and I moved to Manila to be with our Mom while the others started their own families leaving my lola with a succession of other grandkids. But my dining practices remained and my pet peeves include people who leave food on their plates and those who text or watch TV while eating.
Now in my own household, dinners have become sacred – TV and wi-fi are turned off, cellphones and toys are set aside. Studies show that people who eat while doing something else tend to chew less and consume more. But health and etiquette aside… dining has become our time for appreciating the food on the table and the presence of one another.