Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I recently returned from a trip to South America- Buenos Aires and parts of Peru. I noticed a family phenomenon that was quite charming and new to me. At least I have not witnessed this trend in parts of the States where I travel. Going into restaurants with my husband, regardless of the time of day, I saw tables set for from 6-12 people and more, but rarely for 4 and never for 2 people.  What is all this about, I first thought.  And then the diners started strolling in.  There were huge parties of people.  Sometimes, same aged people but for the most part these were 3 and 4 generation family groups: babies, Mommas and Poppas, grandparents and what looked like extended family members—aunts uncles, cousins, etc.  What a treat!  And this was true in all the rural and urban towns we visited.  Eating out is a family affair-the entire family, not just the nuclear family.

How wonderful, I thought.  I can’t remember having that same experience.  First, we moved out of state from my grandparents when I was very young and even before we moved, we NEVER enjoyed their company in a restaurant.  Don’t know why. It just wasn’t done. Then I don’t recall having such friendly or cordial relationships with my aunts and uncles that we would want to eat together.

And even now that I am older, and parents and grandparents are gone, I rarely see this intergenerational family dining experience in any of the restaurants I frequent.

I had this strange sense of ‘something is missing’ from my history. In any case, I just noticed how friendly everyone was, how relaxed, how congenial. Is it an important missing?  I don’t know.  I’m just wondering.

Carol J. Trust