The University of Oxford study looked at the link between “social eating and an individual’s happiness, the number of friends they have, their connection to their community, and overall satisfaction with life.”
And guess what? Eating together is good for us!
“The results suggest that communal eating increases social bonding and feelings of wellbeing, and enhances one’s sense of contentedness and embedding within the community.”
Sadly, in the UK (and no doubt in Australia too), many meals are eaten alone. In fact, restaurants are starting to cater to a trend towards solo dining, giving people “low interaction dining” experiences. But more and more research (not to mention commonsense!) is telling us that the trend is bad for us and has even been linked to mental and physical health conditions including depression, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Which is why it was so important to Dales of Derby owners Margaret and Martin Dingemanse that their accommodation included an enormous table designed specifically for communal meals.
“One of our dreams and specific instructions to our architect was to have a long table with a cosy space perfect for throwing a banquet,”
“I just love having us all together! The kids love setting the table and participating in it all, and there’s just so much to be said for building friendships and having deep and meaningful chats, or a very loud heap of banter over a meal.”
We’ve all had a truly great meal experience, one where the conversation is somewhere between a cosy hum and a raucous roar, where laughter is a constant soundtrack. There’s the chink of glasses and cutlery on plates, children running around the backs of chairs or making cubbies under the table. The food is nourishing and plentiful, a fire is crackling and the soft croon of background music is infrequently heard for all the merrymaking. There’s a mutual understanding with the food preparation, dishes and topping up of drinks; everyone pitching in as needed. But the emphasis is always on the mingling, on the conversation and the connection rather than the quality of the wine or the grade of the steak.
Happy sigh. Those occasions are the stuff of forever-memories.
And that is precisely the experience that The Dales seeks to provide guests the opportunity for.
So what are you waiting for? Gather some of your favourite people and plan a banquet!
And if you’re not a fan of cooking but want the benefits of a big communal meal, check out Trailhead Foods. They will come and cook for you!