The three elements of a great meal – the company, the food and the setting

Posted by Caroline Rennie on

What I remember most about dinner time when I was growing up was roast chicken, my mother’s pizzas with olives and being made to get meals that were good for me.  I also remember sitting down together as a family. I enjoyed the chance to interact with my family, share a laugh and tell my parents about the latest event at school.  So that is why I still enjoying sharing a meal with my family today.

I really believe that dinner time is a fantastic opportunity to come together as a family, whether that family is big or small.  We recently surveyed visitors to our stall at the Wellington Foodshow, asking them which meal was important and why was it important.  There 66% of people felt either dinner was the most important meal or all the meals were important.  And the reason for sitting down? Well 66% of people felt either family was the most important reason or it was as important as the other reasons such as staying healthy!  So while our lives have got busy I believe we still have a sense of the importance of gathering around a table, whether that is in our homes, our favorite café, our friends’ house or a get together with family. 

I am committed to these family gatherings and for this reason I place importance on not just on what we are eating but also on the crockery and table setting we are using.  Completing the dining experience to me makes sense, it stimulates all the senses and gives you a great sense of satisfaction that the meal is complete.  This is why I love using the MUD Australia range because there are beautiful colours, it is light to hold, very functional (you can take the roasting dish straight from oven to the table)[1] and the matte exterior gives a wonderful tactile feel to the range!

For me there are three key elements to a great meal.  The company, the food and the setting.  Get these right and you create memories every day...

The three elements of a great meal

The company

Who I eat with is important to me because it is an opportunity to share in a good conversation. Not only does it give me a chance to connect with my family and friends, I get to learn a little bit more about how they tick and how they spend their time when I am are not there.  I also find that it is a great way to show them how much I respect and care for them.  For me listening to someone shows I care about what they have to say and I know for my son it builds his self-esteem.  It is a small yet wonderful way to show him I love him.

At times I can get caught up in the events of the day, and the things that are capturing my mind.  At these times I risk either dominating the conversation or getting distracted.  I think this is a very human thing to do, but one I can do something about.  So I focus on being an active listener, taking in what my son and husband have to say.  While I love this time and want to keep the conversation flowing I recognize that my son likes to process things before sharing.  At times I find we will discuss something at dinner about his school and he won’t say much. However, later in bed he will bring it back up to talk it over then.

Making the time to share a meal I feel is building strong family bonds and encouraging open lines of communication between us.  I am hoping that the open lines we are building now will serve our family well in the teenage years of my son, when he is more likely to clam up.  Knowing he can talk to me about anything now, will hopefully carry through to those older years.

The food

As a cook I tend to apply my version of mystery box most nights when I discover what is in the fridge.  I aim for a good nutritional meal with plenty of colour on the plate.  I grew up with a Mum who loved to cook and brought to her kitchen flavours of Spain and France, where she grew up.  Back in the 1970’s the use of garlic, avocado and vine tomatoes was unique to say the least!  However, today these ingredients are much more common and can usually be found in my fridge.  I also enjoy cooking Asian dishes and especially find the Japanese flavours, such as miso great to work with.

That being said I do enjoy a good roast and so was excited to discover how well the MUD pebble bowl works as an oven to the table dish!  MUD have just produced a new platter called the Paris platter and this is intended for special occasions and roasting the Christmas Ham.  I am looking forward to trying that out! 

I use my large flared bowl for serving everything from coleslaws, curries and a mean fettucine carbonara!  The smaller flared bowl is perfect for the accompanying rice. 

The setting

I believe how we eat and not just what we eat influences the success of our dining experience.  I am not alone in thinking this with considerable investment made by restaurants, fast food chains and hotels to get us to spend time in their surrounding and feel happy to stay and eat.  There are a number of elements to getting the environment right including the lighting, the sounds, removing distractions and the table setting.  Each home is unique in how these elements are combined to create an environment that fits the home, the people and encourages the enjoyment of a good meal. 

In our house we have made it a habit of setting the table for meals, even breakfast – I think this is a product of how my husband grew up!   The advantage is that it makes it easy to create the eating environment.  As I mentioned earlier the addition of MUD Australia to our home have really elevated the experience.  MUD Australia has the complete tableware to choose from including dining plates, jugs, serving dishes, mugs and beakers (which I use to hold my water).  The colour range, with the choice of twenty colours really completes the experience and is a great opportunity to personalise the tableware setting to suit the style of your home.  The range accommodates the bold (check out plum, duck egg and red), the naturals (milk, sand, dust and slate) and colour-ways such as the greys, blues and greens.   

The MUD Australia range is undoubtedly a wonderful addition to the table.  We get consistent feedback from customers delighted with the experience of using MUD Australia.  The range is extensive and artisan so many customers collect the range over time and receive pieces as gifts for birthdays, Christmas and other celebrations to grow the collection.  To support this journey we have done something quite unique at The Porcelain Lounge and we have set ourselves up to give New Zealanders access to the complete range.  We are partnering with some great stores throughout New Zealand so you can go in, see the colours, touch the product and feel how light it is.

We would like to think that adding MUD Australia to your table will be akin to inviting an old friend, someone that makes you smile when you see them and adds to the enjoyment of the food, the company and the experience of sharing a meal.  

To find out more about the range, view the MUD Australia collection.

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