For my beloved Brother who introduced me to the art of cooking, who taught me how to taste and truly love food. Without him I'd never be able to be where I am today.

September 23, 2011

    Why Eat Together

I'm sure that especially all of you Mediterranean Taste This! -readers can relate to what I'll talk about in this piece. Sorry for generalizing and categorizing, I usually try to avoid falling in stereotypical traps, but sometimes it's fun, especially when they are highlighting positive features of a country or culture.

To state the obvious: Cultures differ in their culinary habits. These uplifting differences are very often the source of my inspiration and excitement when cooking. Just to make it clear, I'm not in any way referring to those Erasmus “Let's all get together, bring a dish representing your country, get wasted and hook up with the warmblooded Spaniard getting friendlier and friendlier as the Calimocho goes down his throat” - types of events the European youth of 2000s are very familiar with. No. I'm talking culture kitchen – a concept constantly occupying my thoughts when cooking.

Going back to the essential I wanted to talk about this time. In the Nordic countries in general families aren't as tightly bound together by food and shared time around the table as the Mediterraneans for instance (from a Finnish perspective, Frenchmen are considered Mediterranean by the way). I actually regret being that awful teen who took her microwave pizza back to the darkness of her room, affronting her Mum's efforts of spending quality time around the table. If I had been a French or an Italian teen, I would've probably been as troubled and fucked-up as I was as a Finnish teen, but maybe I still would've dragged my ass downstairs and valued the family gathering in the dining room. Come to think of it, some people's homes didn't even have a dining room, let alone a proper dining table... What a pity. I'm guessing the situation today isn't any better (?) Luckily, at some point chewing on the same nasty microwave pizza, I saw the light and finally understood the value of cooking with heaps of love and sharing a real homemade meal with the ones you care for the most. In an effort of turning things around and catching up with lost times, after getting acquainted with other countries' eating habits, I started pulling my family together by organizing frequently recurring gatherings in No Man's Land, nowadays also known as the Dining Room.

This might the most banal thing for You coming from one of the Mediterranean countries or You who has plenty of food related family gatherings all the time, but for me it's very special. In my family we never really had any food related traditions, so as soon as I got a taste of the French and the Italian everyday eating habits, I was sold! The ones of You dear readers whom I've made acquaintance with in post-adolescent times, who know how I'm all the time twisting people's arms to get them to take part in the many food related occasions I host, might have trouble believing that I once upon a time couldn't have cared less about dinners and time spent together eating and drinking. Yet, these are the facts. Traditions are important in many aspects, but when it comes to cooking, they certainly are priceless.

At this point You're probably asking Yourself what Sunday Yam Yam is. I'm hoping the title of this piece caught Your attention. Sunday Yam Yam is one of my newest projects that I've started up since moving to Malmö (Sweden) in the beginning of September. Nothing new, nothing mind blowing, but oh so important and wonderful. It was about time that I started creating my own culinary traditions. So I did. What I've done now, four Sundays in a row is inviting friends over for a Mediterranean style Sunday lunch, the ones that start a bit later and go on for three hours or so. I'm kind of known for being a bit of a dictator in the kitchen, so Sunday Yam Yam is a way for me to relax more by diving tasks. So far no one has left our flat unhappy on a Sunday. It has been a fantastic way of getting together, having some quality time. Lazy Sundays suddenly get a special content, something I hope that everyone invited can look forward to during the week. It's a ridiculously small step for humanity, but a huge step for my “family” – the circle of precious people I've had the privilege to share my life with. No photos or clips yet, I'm afraid, but I'm on it.

P.S. While doing some research for this piece, I got absorbed by the variety of advice, concern and information related to this topic. I'm very lucky to be able to read in many languages and in this way be able to get an insight on what the different countries(and also the different nutrition corporations) want to highlight in their articles on the need of more shared time in the kitchen. If You're bored, try googling “eat together” in all languages you know. It's pretty fun comparing. Not all of the links are of high quality or something I fully agree with, but anyway bellow You can find some examples.

In English:
En français:
In italiano:
(I'm not a Nestlé fan at all, but it's interesting to see how these things are formulated)

På svenska:

1 comment:

  1. Well written again but most of all you are so right in what you are saying. It is really something that many Nordic families have forgotten, I mean eating together, making food together. It is important and I am glad that you have found that while exploring Europe. Continue to keep it to your hearth and remember to implement this lovely tradition in your own family when you have one and mom and I will be more than happy to be part of that family dining culture.


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