News Column

'Our food is worth your full attention'

June 20, 2014



Ibelieve there's a smartphone app called something like "dinner app" that allows parents to switch off their children's smartphones and iPads during mealtimes.

What a wonderful idea. Apparently it can be set by parents to shut down the device during the usual family dinner time, so kids don't sit there thumbing away, texting messages during the meal.

Discussion at table should be a pleasure. Families should look forward to talking to each other.

It's a sad reflection on modern life that somebody actually has to devise a way to force people to talk to each other. It's also a sad reflection on modern parenting that nobody apparently has the courage to say: "Okay, family, switch all cellphones off while we're at table."

Would that cause a riot?

I believe texting during meals and when in company is ruining social life and breaking down normal human relationships.

Mealtimes have been traditional times for human contact for centuries. They are when people sit together and talk about the day's events, exchange ideas and generally interact with each other.

Smartphones have threatened to change that. All too often we see couples in restaurants sharing tables, but not actually sharing each other's company at all. Both partners have their heads down, thumbing away at their keypads and communicating with somebody who's not there.

What's the point of going out together if you're not interested in talking to each other, I wonder.

Here again, why don't restaurateurs just ban the use of cellphones at their tables? There has not been a great outcry about the banning of smoking in eating places, and nobody really minds when restaurant managers ban dogs or establish dress codes in their establishments.

Restaurateurs can make their own rules. Nobody minds if they don't allow customers to bring their own wine. It's just a rule of the house. You accept it or go elsewhere. I believe people respect a certain amount of discipline.

Besides, conversation is a social art. My late uncle always made a point of having an interesting subject ready for discussion when I went for my weekly visit to him in his retirement village. He expected me to come prepared with a subject for discussion too. I really used to look forward to those chats. They were stimulating events and I always came away feeling good.

It's a different matter when a restaurant offers wi-fi coverage and single people can sit there enjoying a solitary cup of coffee while catching up on their e-mails, but texting when in the company of others seems very rude to me.

Maybe the people who invented the dinner app could produce one that would switch off all communication devices the moment they're brought into the restaurant.

Or would it be too much trouble to put up a sign saying: "We believe our food is worth your full attention. Please switch off all communication devices while dining with us."

Last Laugh

A man was amused to see a sign outside a restaurant saying: "Crayfish tales: R10 each."

He told a waiter: "I think there's a spelling mistake on your notice."

"No," said the waiter, "that's the way we spell it here."

"Well, it seems very cheap for crayfish," he said. "Are they fresh?"

"Very fresh," said the waiter.

The man handed over a R10 note and said: "Okay, I'll try one."

So the waiter sat him down at a table and sat next to him and began: "Once upon a time there was a big, red crayfish called Bob…"

Cape Argus


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Source: Cape Argus (South Africa)


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