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  • Writer's pictureStuart Sheldon

How To Eat

The average American meal lasts SEVEN MINUTES !!

We don’t dine. We shovel.

And what little conversation does occur often emerges through half-chewed bites of Five Guy’s burgers. No wonder our society is falling off a cliff. But there’s hope …  It’s called the ordinary meal.

The lost art of conversation is painted on the canvas of a dining table.

WE’RE ALL BUSY. That will never not be true.

However, one of our best defenses against digital disconnection and hyper-distraction is to actually dine at least once a day. I’m not talking fancy. By dine I simply mean share your meal with someone. Look them in the eye. Confer. Listen. Taste. And, for god’s sake, chew with your mouth closed.

What you eat is less important than how you eat. In Japan, it’s considered barbaric to eat standing up. So, sit down, exhale and make languid and thoughtful conversation part of the menu.

Admittedly, I’m a hopeless foodie. And one of the things I love most in eating is ritual. Anything that requires a series of actions that add theater to the chewing and swallowing. Think shucking and squeezing lemon onto oysters. Or sushi and the little dipping cup where you must nail the soy/wasabi/ginger ratio. Think pouring sake for the person across from you, lest they suffer a millenium of bad luck and sex (just made that part up). Or wrapping a melange of just-grilled goodies into a fajita. Or something as basic as cutting perfect-sized hunks of fruit onto cereal.

Eat with Gusto!

I just returned with my 5-yr-old from the depths of Western Sonoma County, CA where we camped on a majestic vineyard with 120 friends and 39 kids. A couple crazy-talented chefs went haywire preparing masterpieces in an old farmhouse all weekend long. And I often found myself parked around the BBQ where a 300-lb pig was literally getting his ass smoked. This process took all day and the wine-and-hickory-soaked conversation ranged from the virtues of Bad Company lyrics to the pros and cons of fog. Of course, the swine was divine … but that was just the icing on the cake. The cake was the talking and laughing and forging of friendships.

Make one intentional conversation a priority at least one meal a day.

Summer is a perfect time to start. More daylight to fill. The livin is easier. Go round the table with a “Best/Worst” for your day. Discuss a headline. Read a song lyric or a poem. Everyone tell a joke. Just DON’T slam the pasta bolognese into your maw in five hideous bites. And if you even consider taking out your phone at the table, I will personally bitch slap you with an fistful of asparagus. Especially not in front of your kids. That’s child abuse.

In the book, Never Eat Alone, the author discusses how our success and happiness is predicated to a very large degree on connections with others in all walks of life. I agree fully. So, if you want to slay that big job, make-up with the friend you fought with, know your kids more deeply, tap that hottie in the corner office or just plain BE HAPPIER, you need to cool down and break bread with another like you mean it.

Don’t eat to live. Live to eat!

A rose (made of ham) by any other name would smell as sweet

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