Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Eater or Diner?

This weekend I listened to an interview on NPR's The Splendid Table with David Leite, a renowned chef and author of the new book, Notes on a Banana.  He talked about his childhood in a large, noisy Portuguese family and his first trip to Portugal to find the home his father grew up in--stories with resonance for anyone with roots in a different land who one day find themselves standing on the ground of their forefathers.

Aside from the family history, Leite said one thing that remained on my mind. He discussed the difference between the way he and his partner eat: his partner was an "eater", he said, and he himself was a "diner". The difference, as I understood it, was how they approached their meals. His partner ate fast, like completing a chore  while Leite liked to sit down and enjoy the meal and conversation while eating. I think I've got that basically right; to hear the interview, go here.

A light dawned when I heard this because this explains the difference between how my husband and I eat. He is most definitely an eater; he just wants to get full and move on to the next thing. For the 30+ years we've been married, I've worked to slow him down, getting him to appreciate an attractive table, and food placed on plates to be pleasing to the eye as well as the stomach. I want conversation during and after our meal, time to linger a bit over our drinks when we're finished. I want us to eat together, and to not leave the table until the other is done. I want us to dine.

Larry humors me most of the time, and he does seem to enjoy our meals together. But if I am not here, odds are good that he is eating standing up, or just dumping his food in a bowl and wolfing it down quickly so he can go do something else.

I am glad to understand the difference in our approach to food, and actually it will make me a little more patient with my always-moving husband. When we talked about this, he saw immediately what I was saying and that maybe he needs to slow down a little and take time to enjoy mealtime.

So thank you, Mr. Leite, for explaining something I never understood in all the years I've been married. I doubt I would ever have figured it out on my own.

What about you? Eater, or diner?

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


jcm said...

I, too, am a diner. I think it comes from our background, Sue, where we sat down as a family to eat our dinners. I can remember Dad telling us to slow down and eat like civilized people. I like to enjoy my meal and have pleasant conversation. David is like Larry--too busy to sit and enjoy some quiet time.

Mac n' Janet said...

I think Ii'm a 3rd type, I enjoy the cooking, the plating and the tasting, but while eating I always read. This started when I was a child and is a life-long habit. I eat slower than I use to, I use to be a wolfer, just wolf it down. Now my husband reads while he eats too.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I'm with you, Larry!
"Eater" is probably the politest description that has ever been made of my banqueting technique, certainly the only one that does not include comparison to various farmyard animals anyway.
I always mean to eat slowly and savour my food but, before I know it, it's all gone!

Michelle said...

My husband, (and children), are eaters and I am a diner. I enjoy the experience and they always wait on me in restaurants!

annie said...

I married one too!
But my son could run and eat like a jack rabbit!
None of us even bother to try and keep up with him.

Quinn said...

David Leite has a blog, too - and some of his cookbook recipes are available online :) Do you ever cook Portuguese dishes, Sue? I am still trying to replicate the soup (caldo verde) I often enjoyed in Portugal, and over several years have grown three different kales as part of the process. Just as I decided it must be the particular "green" grown in Portugal that makes the difference, I am seeing "Portuguese kale" seeds for sale in several catalogs...so maybe I'll make one more attempt...

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