In the main capital cities and towns around Australia there is now a very strong restaurant & café scene that has evolved over time due to the diversity of our cultures & cuisines. The great produce and the talents of our forward thinking & inspirational chefs now means that us Aussies eat-out an average of 2.5 times a week. All great fun, but it may be at cost to our skills of conversation and fear of intimacy.
Back in the day:
When Australia was developing its food culture in the early 1930’s it was based predominately on European dishes and the French and English cooking techniques. There were restaurants, but they were considered indulgences for the more wealthy. Even if the immigrants and settlers at the time could afford to dine out, they could not get the food they were used to at the restaurants, and hence the majority of the population would prefer to eat at home.
During and after the war, good fresh ingredients were scarce, so there was no impetus on developing a food culture. Those that could, would grow some produce at home, and have a simple meal where the whole family and friends would dine around the kitchen table.
Moving on through the 1960’s & 1980’s, throwing a dinner party was more of the norm. I remember mum and dad throwing rather raucous toga nights that ended up with keys being passed around in a bowl. They thought my sister and I we were in bed, but peeping from our bedroom door, I could never understand why it seemed to empty the room.
The death of the dinner party:
Either way, the ‘dinner party’ brought people together in a comfortable, homely environment where conversation (and a little wine) encouraged people to talk and get to know each other. Guests had to work harder at their conversation skills which then lead to more interesting conversations (not as easy in a restaurant or bar environment where you have constant distractions). As guests felt more relaxed and cared for by their host, their guard would drop, allowing for more intimate relationships to develop.
Cities can be a lonely place:
As we get busyer in our lives, more and more people ‘dine out’ because they are time poor or can’t be bothered to cook. Or like me – keen to go out and try the next best restaurant or dining experience. It’s all great, but ultimately it can make a city a lonely place for people, as we loose the art to intimately connect.
So do something about it, pick up the phone or rent a private home with a group of friends (and some people you don’t know) for your next holidays. I can of course recommend a great place to stay!
I say “Bring back the dinner party”
Dinner party tips and tricks to come next blog.