Europe’s precious rituals: A plea for the art of dining

Europe’s precious rituals: A plea for the art of dining

Europe’s precious rituals: A plea for the art of dining


There is something very special in Europe which brings its people together in a cheerful and harmonious way, while also helping it pass down generations worth of life enhancing wisdom. It is something which can probably only be appreciated when one no longer has access to it. I am referring to Europe’s culinary traditions and the social interactions connected to them. The wisdom of social, attentively prepared and savored, meals cannot be underestimated. It is difficult to ignore, no matter in what part of the continent one finds themselves, the rich and enticing aromas of gastronomic art.

It is strange how an apparently insignificant thing can be missed once it is no longer a part of one’s life. I have been going back and forth between Europe and the US for a while and have therefore come to understand the extent to which one’s life can be changed by the power of the fork. There are many articles on this matter, thus, I will not go into much detail in this post.

 Moreover, it is not my intention to accuse any culture, country or individual of anything. Rather, I am, by way of observation, expressing a preference and urging all those who know the secrets to a well-prepared meal to preserve and share the knowledge. Such rituals do the heart and body an infinite of good.  

In Europe, people usually eat together, they use it as an opportunity to catch up and socialize. The meal, however, is not where the focus lies. It is used as a conversation enhancer and experience refiner. People eat slowly, they talk and laugh, and there is no incessant waiter constantly by their side asking if they are ready for the check, or, in other words, if they are done eating to make room for the next customer. Everyone eats in peace and is free to stay in the restaurant as long as they like, which is usually about an hour if they are taking a lunch break or several hours if they are simply out with friends.

Water is generally served from a bottle, not a tap, and it typically doesn’t have ice in it, which, I hear, is actually a good thing when it comes to helping digestion. One can, of course, ask for it to be cold or room temperature. And, when it the portion sizes, they are much smaller than those in the US.

In Europe, people cook at home more, many have gardens and are interested in healthy, good tasting meals. Of course, this is not the case for everyone. There are always exceptions to be found. However, all in all, the Old Continent has kept its culinary rituals alive.

In the US, there are not many such healthy traditions of which to speak. Most people there do not dine. They gulp food, usually a lot of it. And then, as if trapped on a conveyer belt, they feel obligated, perhaps, by the insistence of the waiter to make room for the next customer.

Of course, everyone is free to live and eat the way they want. And every country is free to adopt whatever policies it pleases. It can encourage its citizens to live healthily, or not.

There is much to be said on the subject. For now, however, the point is that Europe has a great number of healthy eating traditions and is well versed in the art of dining and savoring food and experiences.  The best thing for the Old Continent would be to protect and perpetuate such customs, and not fall into the trap of thinking that anything imported, whether produce or custom, is beneficial.

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Georgiana Constantin-Parke

Georgiana Constantin-Parke
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