I was lucky enough to be included around the adult table from a very early age. With or without guests we always sat around the table as a family. As I said in my previous post ‘I Live To Eat‘, it was after World War II when a family meal started to become more of a tradition. With so many lives lost and money gone, people had no servants or cooks and everyone had to muck in and sit together! It’s so important in today’s world that children get that time with their parents or share the table when there are adult guests, it’s massively character building and not only improves on their table manners but builds on their conversation and confidence!
They are never too young either, on our recent trip to Newquay we had a fine-dining experience in the beautiful Beachcomber Restaurant. At the time our two were 4 and 7 years old, most people would assume they’d have no interest – but they loved it!! They immediately picked up on the different cutlery there was, how many wine glasses there were and ‘Daddy it looks so posh in here!’. Believe it or not lots of children like the opportunity to get dressed up and feel special just like adults do. I remember going to the Caribbean with my parents and we were all allowed to pick a special treat during our stay – my sisters went for things like ‘Turtle Watching’ and ‘Surfing’ which I loved also, but my choice of treat was to visit a 5* restaurant and eat some of the finest fresh scallops and lobster in the world!
Our two don’t even eat that much but they were also blown away that we were having 3 courses AND they were allowed to pick from the adult menu if they wished (they offered children’s portions). Ellanna started with breaded mozzarella with a tomato salsa, and Jack had ‘posh’ chicken dippers with ketchup on the side. Sean and I also indulged with a ham hock terrine and freshly caught whitebait.
Jack who’s only 4 went on to have a huge child’s Angus Cheeseburger with fries, Ellanna (feeling very grown up) wanted a grilled chicken salad. Sean and I were so impressed with how they were during the meal, despite being tired from a lot of driving and playing at the hotel. We realised that all the effort of sitting as a family at home truly was paying off. They never forget their napkins, nor did their elbows go near the table. They eat properly with their knives and forks and their mouths never open whilst chewing. As a family we like to say what ‘our best bit of the week/day was’ or ‘What we are thankful for today’ – just as a way of the children understanding how lucky we all are – plus it almost always starts a conversation. We love talking with the children, they often ask us about things and end up learning something. We also know that they feel comfortable chatting to us.
We concluded the dinner with both the children choosing to ‘make their own sundaes’, Sean wanted some proper Cornish ice cream and I had a melt in the mouth, rich chocolate fondant. We all devoured the meal and enjoyed some quality family time together. It even became Ellanna’s favourite part of the trip and she can’t wait to go out to dinner again – not to mention she has suddenly developed a different appreciation for food than before and has even been doing lots of cooking with me.
Thank you to the Sands Hotel for having us for the weekend and the lovely staff in the Beachcomber Restaurant for giving us all a wonderful dining experience. We will be back!