Leaving my hometown near Venice over a decade ago has been eye opening for me. I have noticed over my 4 years in London and now 6 years in Melbourne, that meal time is not always shared and celebrated the way we do in Italy.
I truly believe it is important to make it special, no matter if it is a family lunch or you are hosting a dinner party with friends, meals should be appreciated and shared together with laughter and joy.
Especially if you - like me - are still in lockdown (hi Melbournians!) or face some restrictions, it is important to take some time to escape the routine and reconnect with your household over meal Time and make it special.
The key ingredients to do this are delicious food, the right ambiance for the occasion and of course your loved ones!
So...how to create the right ambiance?
1. SET UP YOUR TABLE - ALWAYS!
A well-appointed and welcoming table will set the mood for meal time and create a chic setting.
Start by laying a placemat or a tablecloth on the table and follow with plates, cutlery, napkins and glassware based on what you will serve. You can add your own creativity by mixing and matching plates, using colourful glassware, adding elaborately folded napkins, but you could also play with additional details, such as colourful ribbons instead of napkin rings.
2. ADD A PERSONAL TOUCH
Add details to create a sense of uniqueness to this meal. Add personalised name cards to your dinner party, or decorate the table with candles or flowers. I like to keep the decoration theme cohesive with what I am serving or themed to the occasion.
3. SET THE MOOD WITH MUSIC
Select a playlist for the occasion
I like something more upbeat for lunch and jazz or lounge music for dinner. Create some playlists on Spotify , so it will be quick to choose. Make sure the volume is not too powerful and won’t interfere with the conversation.
4. START WITH DRINKS + APPETISERS
This is a custom I’ve learnt from my husband’s family and I think it is great!Welcome your guests (or household) with a drink and some nibbles. It’s a great way to start the conversation before the meal and appreciate each other’s company. For the everyday I would suggest easy and healthy options, such as cherry tomatoes, few crudites, a slice of bread with butter or oil and you could create more elaborate appetisers when hosting a dinner party.
What drink you would serve may vary from the occasion. Is it a weekday meal? What about some chilled water infused with lime and cucumber? Weekend or a special occasion calls for champagne or cocktail (or mocktail, of course) of choice.
5. TAKE YOUR TIME
Meals shouldn't be rushed, but enjoyed. This is great both for your mental and physical health. It will help to cut a break in your day and appreciate food and time with others.
I would recommend phones on silent and no TV in the background (ours would only be onto play Netflix fireplace, as unfortunately we don’t have the pleasure to light a real one)
6. EAT, DRINK AND ENJOY!