Diatribe: Chefs Don’t Cook For People Who Want To Watch Television
My parents would never let us watch television while we were enjoying a family meal. Back in the day we were allowed to see our favorite shows (Gilligan’s Island, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie, The Munsters … I’m dating myself) while dinner was being prepared but, as soon as the food was ready, we were instructed to turn off the TV set and wash our hands. Meals were eaten at the kitchen table and no one would leave until they were “excused”. We would talk about our day and enjoy the food together.
I think most families were like that. Dinnertime was a time for parents to learn about their children and a time for children to learn what was expected of them. Discussions at the dinner table taught youngsters how to interact politely with both other children and with adults. The focus was on the meal and the food and the fewer things to distract from it, the better.
Times have changed. Now it seems that everyone has a cell phone and they’re addicted to email and text messaging … even at the dinner table. (I, personally, have been chastised for texting during a meal and have since learned to leave my cell phone in the car when I go into a restaurant.) But it doesn’t matter because so many restaurants have entirely too many televisions in them.
I understand the appeal of a television in a bar, or even a dozen televisions in a big sports bar where watching the screens as you eat is a sort of “theme experience” or a place to gather with friends for a drink during the big game … but they shouldn’t be in family restaurants. There is no way that parents can expect their children to focus on a meal when there are television screens in each corner of the room all tuned to a different station. The distractions are unavoidable.
Restaurants shouldn’t be places where you go to watch television. Chefs don’t cook for people who want to watch the game, they cook for people who want to enjoy the food that they prepare. It’s not just sports bars that have televisions now. They’re found in upscale restaurants, hamburger chains and sushi bars. Hardee’s even has its own channel!
The next time you go out to dinner and you see a television screen hanging in a corner, look around and notice how few folks are actually talking to each other. And don’t be one of the people that is ignoring their loved ones in order to watch television … you can do that at home.