Our trip to Scotland and Ireland earlier this summer was one of those tours where you ride a bus or ferry from one place to another. For the first few days, I noticed that people in our group were complaining that the meal service was bad–too slow.
I admit that at first, I was among the complainers. Our initial restaurant experience in Scotland was unarguably horrible. But after that, the service seemed to follow a particular routine.
It was slower than we’ve come to expect in America. But when the same pattern emerged from place to place, I realized that, aside from our initial experience, the service wasn’t bad after all. It was simply a cultural difference giving us time to enjoy the food and each other’s company.
We were Americans (for the most part) in a hurry. They were Europeans bred with the idea of not rushing mealtime.
The restaurant staff seemed to have the idea that mealtime is more than food consumption. A bit of extra time between courses encouraged us to enjoy an unveiling of the meal along with fellowship. The time between appetizer and entree, between entree and dessert, was time to get to know the strangers on the same adventure we were having.
There was a young couple apparently on a second honeymoon away from their three children, a retired teacher from Philadelphia, a couple who had traveled to Vietnam and other exotic places–two young women from Canada, a mother and four of her five adult daughters.
We ate amazing breads, drank tea, and relished unbelievable desserts. (A chocolate mousse with a honeycomb topper. (The chef mixes honey and baking soda together and bakes it–then breaks it up to adorn each dish of mousse.) The result resides on the memory of my tongue.)
We also ate a good many parsnips and turnips. That’s because they’re locally grown. We got a true sense of what it’s like to eat there–not the universal sense you get by eating pineapple in Minnesota.
Food and fellowship go together. They create bonds.
Once we got home, it didn’t take me long to get back into the habit of rushing through meals.
As I ponder time away from my habits and out of my routine, I want to slow down to savor the conversation at every meal–as much as I can.
It may be the part of a day from this summer we remember later on. Not just the baked beans, which by the way, in Scotland, come with breakfast–not with dinner.
No matter which meal you choose to enjoy your beans, linger. Converse. Savor. Remember.
Let God bless the fellowship as well as the food.