FOOD, GLO­RI­OUS FOOD

COM­ING TO­GETHER AROUND A TA­BLE TO SHARE A MEAL IS SOME­THING A LOT OF US MAY HAVE LOST IN 21ST CEN­TURY LIFE. HERE’S HOW TO BRING IT BACK

Life & Style Weekend - - RELATIONSH­IPS - WORDS: JOANNE WIL­SON

It’s the Noosa Food and Wine Fes­ti­val next week and I’ll be there with bells on. The fes­ti­val will play host to more than 200 chefs, pro­duc­ers, wine­mak­ers and jour­nal­ists with a pas­sion for gourmet food and wine.

We will be able to taste unique in­gre­di­ents, watch demon­stra­tions by leading chefs, take part in beach bar­be­cues and the fes­ti­val’s an­nual beach party. Bring it on, let’s UTF – Unite Through Food.

It got me think­ing. Food is one of the won­der­ful ne­ces­si­ties of life. We eat through­out our marriage and re­la­tion­ships and, well, ev­ery part of our lives.

Does Aus­tralian cul­ture use this shared ex­pe­ri­ence to strengthen our re­la­tion­ships, say, like the Ital­ians?

You may well have done the ex­cit­ing and ro­man­tic dates in the early days at your favourite restau­rants or on the beach as you gazed hope­fully and lov­ingly into each other’s eyes.

But what about the ev­ery­day up­keep of our re­la­tion­ships?

Some of the best con­ver­sa­tions you’ll have will be over a meal.

It’s uni­ver­sally ac­knowl­edged as a great time to dis­cuss a va­ri­ety of top­ics – even dif­fi­cult ones.

Don’t un­der­es­ti­mate the psy­cho­log­i­cal and

emo­tional ben­e­fits: namely so­cial con­nec­tion, in­tel­lec­tual stim­u­la­tion, re­lax­ation and ro­mance.

Here are my top tips for cu­rat­ing culi­nary co­he­sion for cou­ples:

1. Give up multi-task­ing: Hands up who eats in front of the TV or ac­com­pa­nied by a screen? Thought so.

The trap of liv­ing un­der an un­nec­es­sary sense of ur­gency to be en­ter­tained, work and, of course, be ever present on so­cial me­dia can put you in chronic toxic stress and make you sick, in­clud­ing ter­ri­ble in­di­ges­tion.

Turn off the screens and al­low meals to be the per­fect time to talk about your highs and lows. It will also help you slow down and eat less. 2. In­vest the time in home cook­ing: Savour the sat­is­fac­tion of cre­at­ing a dish and like­wise hav­ing your part­ner pre­pare some­thing for you is some­thing you can put lov­ing care and ef­fort into (hello, hus­band, I hope you’re read­ing). Sure, it’s still a meal, but when it’s made with love, it’s su­per-spe­cial and tastes oh-so-much better. It’s like a tiny, tasty gift at the end of a long day. 3. Can’t cook? Try learn­ing: This is the per­fect joint ac­tiv­ity. There are awe­some op­tions to do this to­gether here on the Sun­shine Coast. Putting in the ef­fort to im­prove your­self for the sake of your re­la­tion­ship shows a great deal of love and ded­i­ca­tion. 4. Cre­ate the mood: Arty and bright or warm and dark tonight? Use those funky lit­tle string lights, draw some­thing, use aro­matic can­dles and swoon to the mu­sic.

Want to feel so­phis­ti­cated? Throw on some clas­si­cal. Tweak the at­mos­phere in your house and bang- date night is on. 5. Re­lax and en­joy your­selves: Just be­cause you switched off tech­nol­ogy doesn’t mean you need to be su­per-for­mal. Sit back, re­lax and chill. Why not kick back on the floor while eat­ing for a change? If there are lit­tle munchkins in the house, they’ll love a snack­able spread on a blan­ket. Plenty of other cul­tures do it.

6. Make it ha­bit­ual: It’s all won­der­ful to now de­cide to eat to­gether more of­ten. So, why not hand-write a spe­cific goal such as: “Eat to­gether as a fam­ily at the ta­ble three times per week”.

Paste this up on the fridge for all to see and prac­tise, prac­tise, prac­tise.

Keep each other ac­count­able and after 30 days, it’ll be the start of the norm of unit­ing through food for you.

See you on Noosa beach next week­end. I’ll be the one with the empty plate.

Tune in to Salt106.5 each Fri­day for my fun chat with Kris­tian on the break­fast show. Joanne is a neu­ropsy­chother­a­pist and re­la­tion­ship spe­cial­ist. Fol­low Jo on Face­book at The­con­fi­dan­te­coun­selling and on Instagram @the.con­fi­dante

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