Dining used to be a simple affair, with people seated around a table sharing a meal, complimenting the chef if the food was exemplary, and the like. Fast forward to the present – dining as a concept has been revolutionised with mind-boggling variations to a simple, predictable activity! In Sydney, you have fine dining options to restaurants where you can dine and enjoy live music or a live show, and even luxury Sydney dinner cruise as well!
When we look at the history of dining, ancient Romans were the ones who started hosting dinner parties with exotic and intricately prepared dishes. During or after the dinner, the Roman Emperor and senators would congregate and discuss matters of state. The English dinner parties hosted in the late 1880s were more formal affairs, with printed invitations and elaborate food displays. They would be followed by entertainment that included singing or poetry recitals.
The first entertainment accompaniments with dinner were string music and jazz. Having a live band playing tunes gave the place an elegance that was missing from the average restaurant. As times progressed, there would sometimes be a lead singer accompanying the band, or there would be a routine from a stand-up comedian who would make the audience erupt into peals of laughter, as they tucked into their meals.
A little later, dining started to get more innovative, especially in cities like Sydney, which boasts the most beautiful natural harbour in the world. There are many dinner cruises on Sydney Harbour that offer it's guests a luxury dining experience, while enjoying brilliant views of the city's iconic attractions. There's even one that offers a gourmet three-course meal as well as a live cabaret show on a vessel that's designed like a New Orleans-style paddlewheeler.
As the world moved to new ages, multiple activities were being clubbed with dining. Dining became less of a recreational pastime, and more of a stage for other activities. It's the stage for business meetings or interviews for potential job aspirants. The food aspect of dining seems to have been sidelined with other activities taking centre stage.
You get more for your money's worth now though, with all the added entertainment inclusions. But are we missing out on something – the core part of dining, the food? We used to select a restaurant or a diner based on the dishes they were known for, and not the entertainment options available. Dining used to be a passionate affair, tasting eclectic flavours and enjoying the flavours and spices that went into making it. All these added accompaniments might have also lowered the standards of cuisine, as the main focus has shifted from dining to entertainment elements.
The experience of dining is only remembered during festive occasions like Christmas or Easter, when everyone sits down to share a meal, taking in the flavours and expressing gratitude to the ones who toiled in the kitchen to put the feast on the table. There will be lively discussions and conversations with each other, but the food and feasting always hold centre stage!
It's sad though, that we are not able to experience this joy of dining more often, appreciating the flavours and the good work that goes into making each dish.