Dining tables can enhance the dining experience

Dining tables can enhance the dining experience
As children we never had any posh dining tables to eat on as our Dad was in the Air Force and we just were given PWD furniture to use, which was rented at a minimal cost. It was only when we went to our Grandparents home in Bangalore, that we ate at a dining table which was bespoke and built to match the large dining room, with beautiful Italian floor tiles.

The table seated six very comfortably and was made of Burma teak. Four more could sit at every corner with chairs pulled up from every room, when we had guests for a meal. I remember so clearly my Grandfather presiding over the table and there was nothing we children were denied. “ Go and bring as many mangoes as you like from the store room,” he would say, much to my Dads annoyance. “ When you are in my house you can eat as many as you like, take as many as you want.” And we went gleefully to the storeroom and brought the huge fruit to the table, for our grandmother to cut and we enjoyed, with rivulets of mango juice pouring down our faces.

So when I had my own home it was clear, I wanted a beautiful, Burma teak dining table to seat six or more comfortably. Took a few years to buy one, but finally did get a beautiful piece from a store named Teak Wood, and have never regretted the buy. It is 30 plus years old and still as good as new.

Then quite by chance, I was a guest at a doctors home in the UK with my family. A doctor from the ‘70’s who had no children and was obviously very comfortably off. We had a sit down dinner at his home in the UK, in a wonderful home with a breathtaking garden. But all that paled into insignificance when we sat down to our meal.The table had been especially shipped out from India and could comfortably seat twelve. The entire table was inlaid with exquisite Indian motifs, entire village scenes from different parts of India. The whole table was covered with a large slab of glass and so did not need a table- cloth. We could admire the intricate workmanship of our Indian artisans, while we devoured our meal.

To add to the wonderful experience his wife was a cordon bleu chef and the spread could have knocked the socks off any Indian chef, anywhere in the world. Mangalorean cuisine was his wife’s specialty and the variety of meats and sea food on the table, was mind boggling. “ My table cost me 5 lakhs to bring here way back in the ‘80’s,” the affable Doctor explained with pride, while we all oohed and aahed and wondered what it was worth in 2018.

Last year we had a wonderful meal in a fabulous old Portuguese bungalow of a friend in the heart of Panjim. Armando Gonsalves lives in the sprawling Gonsalves Mansion in the heart of Panjim, stuffed to the brim with the most wonderful artefacts from around the world. He is the man behind trying to clean up the city of Panjim and I was being feted as my story about the Panjim Creek had won me the first prize from the German government, along with a cheque of Rs 50,000/- He was thrilled because I had brought his and my beloved Goa to the forefront in an International magazine called Terra Green, which is the baby of the famed TERI University in New Delhi.

But it was his massive dining table, that caught my eye as we sat down to a meal. Like all dining tables in large homes that are meant to expand and contract according to the number of people sitting down to a meal, the leaves of the table were lifted out to expand and seat 24. Needless to say it was placed in a massive dining room with a stunning chandelier hanging over it. The chandelier tinkled above, as our conversation ebbed and flowed below it.

The fried mackerels, masala pomfrets and savoury prawns that we ate, along with the pork vindaloo and the home made goan sunnas, had everyone replete and thanking Armando for his generosity in inviting us over. Phones were whipped out to take pics of the table and selfies with the beaming host and hostess.

And now one of my sons, has bought the grandest, most beautiful table anyone could ever desire, in an auction. Definitely someone’s dream dining table to seat 8, with leaves for more. It has a glass topping under which there are the most stunning carved Indonesian or Chinese ( Macao) workmanship. Even the chairs are carved with the most exquisite upholstery to match. Good to see that the kids have imbibed the joys of recycling, rather than purchasing new, which do not have the strength or character as old furniture does. And antique has value which new does not.

To really and truly enjoy a sit down meal, I strongly believe, that the table too makes a big difference. And it makes me glad to see, that this generation prefers sit down meals, at exquisite dining tables, to the buffet meals of our generation. And for Christmas we could also cross our arms and enjoy pulling a traditional Christmas Bon bon, in a chilly London, all seated around a large dining table.

The crockery, cutlery and style of a sit down meal, is unbeatable.

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