I’ve been thinking about dinner for quite some time now, perhaps since last year.
In case you were wondering, I’m not exactly thinking about tonight’s dinner in particular, nor so much about the menu that will start off with a long shopping list and then work its way to be mise en place, and later become ingredients frying in the wok or simmering over low heat in the pot.
Instead of the literal and physical definition of dinner, which translates into food, I’m pondering more over the concept of coming together at the same table over a meal.
Whether it be Indian or Korean or Chinese, it’s the fact that having dinner means taking time off to sit down with someone else, with the intention of enjoying their company over food, and of course, especially if the food is home-cooked.
I’m thinking about the importance of having a moment.
Be it two hours or just 30 minutes, it’s the moment during which you put away the day’s burdens and work issues, and to concentrate for that period of time, on cherishing and reveling in the knowledge that those seated at the table have chosen to share this time together.
Given our busy schedules in this time-constrained and fast-paced society, I find dinner that special but also essential moment of the day where communication is given space to flow.
Perhaps because so much time is spent preparing and cooking dinner, the need for the meal to be more than just 10 minutes of eating is so strong.
There’s a word in Spanish which was created to describe this desire for fellowship at meal times.
It’s called “sobremesa”, which literally means “over the table”, and conceptually speaking, refers to the time spent after a meal, enjoying the company of those at the table with you. Personally, it’s one of my favorite words in Spanish.
I read the other day about how little details at the dinner table can instill the essence of and importance placed on this once-a-day event.
Ashley wrote about how she wanted her little children to realize the thought and intention invested into dinner, as an event of communion, and for them to one day come to appreciate this time as much as she does.
In her words, Ashley had written -
“I’m setting the table to mark this time. To remind myself and my family that when we gather around the table, together, over an elaborate meal or a simple one, it’s sacred. I want my kids to see me honoring this time so hopefully, they’ll feel the same way someday.”
It’s all in the little details.
Maybe it’s using a fancy tablecloth instead of the everyday plastic place mats; perhaps it’s the small but pretty golden candle placed in the middle of the table, its flame flickering with the laughter and freely-flowing conversation between the dinner guests.
It may even be a new ingredient and new cuisine once a week, to make dinner a fun suspense, or just something as simple as making dessert, every once in a while.
A dessert like this, that’s as effortless to create as churning a few ingredients in the processor, such as dates, nuts, cocoa powder, salt and butter.
When all the ingredients have been well blended together, divide them into two equal portions, then press it down into two small greased tart molds. All that’s left to do is to let it chill in the refridgerator, and when it’s time to be served, remove the tarts from the molds, dust some cocoa powder over it, and top with fresh fruits, like my current favorite pomegranate.
How about you? Do you try making dinner a special event too? If you do, what are the small details that make it special? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
RAW CHOCOLATE NUT TARTELETTES (Makes 2 small tarts)
Adapted from: My Darling Lemon Thyme
1) 1 1/2 cups of dried dates, pitted (or 12 fresh meijool dates, pitted)
2) 1 cup almonds
3) 1/4 cup walnuts
4) 1/4 cup unsweetened cacao powder + extra for dusting
5) Pinch of fine salt
6) 3 tablespoons of melted butter
7) 1/4 cup of water (only add if batter is too dry)
8) Fresh fruits for topping (e.g. strawberries, pomegranate seeds, cherries, blueberries etc)
1) Place the pitted dates in the processor, and pulse a few times until dates are chopped into small pieces
2) Add in the almonds and the walnuts and pulse a few times until the nuts are also in small pieces
3) Add in cocao powder, salt, melted butter, and then blend until you get a paste-like mixture (if mixture is too dry, add in the 1/4 cup of water)
4) Divide mixture into two equal parts and transfer mixture to two small previously-buttered tart molds, and press down evenly with your hands
5) Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refridgerator for at least 4 hours or overnight
6) Remove from the tart molds, dust with cocao powder (or icing sugar), if desired, and then serve with fresh fruits.
*Note: Tarts can be stored in the refridgerator for up to one week.