From time immemorial, social gatherings and top events have taken place around a table. The symposiums were great; they had the best food, the best wine and the best service that was made up of many small performances. Life as it should be…
Many conversations with deep reflections were endless in ancient Athens, and lasted all night, and still, they animate the past. Thus, Plato, as an example, wrote the Symposium (c.385–370 B.C.).
At the table, you don't just eat and enjoy a glass of wine, but mostly you talk. You support your opinions. At the table, there has always been freedom of speech, and that is something with which the West has moved forward with.
Perhaps, it would not be an exaggeration if today we say that, the "imaginary bases" of the Western World are also found on the table. Only, first, with the argument and then, with the counter-argument that follows, will the truth be approached. The table presents timeless values of tolerance.
Thus, a table means, think beyond the food.
The table as an object will also be the main component of the restaurant. Of a restaurant that means food, culture and hospitality. And the concept of hospitality is something that is also lost in the depths of centuries. People have always had the need to open their home to someone coming from afar.
Even Leon Trotsky was once a guest of Kemal Atatürk...
But what can it mean, for the future of society, for man to eat at a restaurant table alone or, with others as it is usually the case? And how can this habit have better effects for himself, society and the environment?
For centuries, the restaurants, with the landscape of tables that distinguish them, have been the stomach of every metropolis. Heading to a table to enjoy a meal is a form of pilgrimage; it is a revolutionary idea and joy. Only positive elements can be in store for the future.
And also, in a post-pandemic world what people will consume on the table can protect them from some future pandemic, but also reduce the effects of climate change. But isn't that a reasonable thing?
The table is society within society. Why? Life is a long journey. It has friendship, laughter and intense moments. At the table, you will meet a new person which is knowledge in itself. And you have to “accept everything”, and at the same time, leave it behind you when you sit in one of the chairs at the table, a moment that increases saliva especially while you read the menu.
At the same time, being at a table where some people will serve you (servers = the underdogs from the back roads of life) with subtle movements is the culmination of a personal journey, but also of all human history.
Modern people are obsessed with the process of dining out and eating food with a knife and a fork. At the same time, every experience around the table, during a lunch or a dinner, it will be different from everyone else's. However, what people will eat at the table can make the future safer.
Can eating more vegetables, seeds and fruits, and less meat and fish, also be an act of nobility and responsibility to society? The Earth? Clearly yes, and less land devoted to produce meat it will help a lot.
In Sydney, and other big cities, the responsibility of the restaurateurs and of the servers is crucial. When the people sit at a restaurant table in order to eat and socialise, what, and how they will order, can be a positive development for the environment, and not only for their personal memories (blah, blah, blah).
The restaurants can help, with their tireless staff, “can influence”, “eliminate waste”, “even change”, the habits of their customers.
As an example, Eleven Madison Park (New York City) restaurant has an eco-minded menu based only on vegetables and seeds, and estiatorio Milos (Montreal) is also making efforts to include in its menu seasonality of ingredients with more options of vegetables, soups and risotto.
Certainly people will not stop, for many-many years to come, eating meat and fish (especially, the freshest fish that estiatorio Milos serves, and it is the best in the world).
Our choices at the table, but also the harmonious eat-together mentality, not only means that people after so many wars are at peace, but it means that they are interested in the future. Day by day, it becomes restaurant culture that everyone is having some responsibility towards the flora and fauna around us.
The customers watching the films and the series such as: The Menu (2022), Boiling Point (2021) and The Bear (2022) also understand better the insides of the tough restaurant industry.
Reading books such as Your Table is Ready: Tales of a New York City Maître D' (2022) it also helps a lot. The restaurant table can be a new Rosetta Stone for unlocking the past, and upon it, we can invent a more fruitful future.
Food is incredibly important and it's time for everyone to decide to eat better and healthier while ordering from the menu. And what is the point? Let the food that people order at the table having the least possible environmental impact.
“Putting your needs ahead of others is a dangerous habit, for yourself and for the planet” The Economist recently wrote, and this thought cannot be silenced because some people like watching a celebrity chef seasoning a piece of meat with a “cobra-inspired hand” and the salt to fall down on the piece of meat...
The restaurant table, where people eat, share food and exchange ideas, will also magistrate our continuity on Earth. We are going to sweat blood if we don’t take climate change seriously… It is an obligation of all, and more so, of those who work in the restaurants to be more responsible.
It has to be added that, Noma’s closure (Copenhagen), planned to take place at the end of 2024, sparks new questions and challenges too, far beyond the physical exhaustion of its talented staff who even served grilled reindeer heart.
As Fine Dining has its limits, it will have a better meaning if, one day, it means something like: Fine Future for the Humanity and the Planet. Climate-friendliness now begins, at each table of estiatorio Milos and, at each TABLE of every restaurant around the world…
* Dimitris Eleas is a writer, independent researcher and political activist. His writings have appeared in books, journals and newspapers.
You can contact him via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.