Growing up, my family had two different dining tables: one small, round table in the kitchen and another long, rectangle table in the dining room.
The kitchen table was (as still is) the everyday dining table for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s tight, has random wooden chairs and barely seats five adults; whereas the dining room has one long rectangle table with 6 matching chairs.
We would eat in the kitchen 363 days of the year and used everyday plates, paper napkins, utensils and glassware.
(Please Note: There are 5 people in my family… the kitchen table is about the size of one tractor wheel… and three of us are now 5’8 and over… you do the math)
For the other 2 days out of the year, we would sit down for a meal in the dining room. Mama Ma pulled out all of the “fancy” (and by fancy I mean, something more elegant than plastic) plates, serving spoons, gravy boats, stemware, linens, the works.
And I’ll admit, it felt very special when we were having dinner in the dining room- everyone would sit up straighter, dress a little nicer and perhaps, eat a little bit calmer (…or maybe that was just me). However, as pretty as the room looked with all of the “new” plates, glasses and flatware… it really didn’t have any life. To me it was just an empty room with a long table and pretty plates.
So I as reflected today… I asked myself, “Why weren’t we using that room as often? And why aren’t we spoiling ourselves everyday with pretty teapots, fancy cups and pretty plates if we have them?” “Are we worried we’ll stain the floor?” No. “Will we have too much to clean up?” No.
I mean, I absolutely love using pretty bowls and cups- it’s gets me really excited about the cooking process and more importantly, the eating part…
Mr. Clay Triplette (Chef James Beards good friend and steward) told me, “Mr. Beard always used the good stuff. I would take out china plates, fancy jars, spoons, forks, knives, copper pots… everyday. He loveeeeeed collecting plates but he also used them, everyday. That’s riggghht.”
With that said, I agree with Mr. Beard and Mr. Clay because I honestly don’t see any reason to keep a formal dining room with pretty dishes and cups in hibernation- I mean, why bother investing in a plate if you’re not going to use it? Will it really be that much more valuable in 100 years? Probably, but you won’t live to know.
So the next time I go home to visit Mama Ma, I’m going to put some life back into our dining room.
And for more ideas and special home dining experiences, enter to win an autographed copy of My Beverly Hills Kitchen Cookbook by Alex Hitz!
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