If you’re like me, you’ll want to dip into this again and again as it’s packed with little tidbits of advice and inspiration. Here you’ll find notes on music to play while you’re cooking, subjects to get your kids engaged in conversation at the table, and ways to use up leftovers, plan your shopping and set the table.
But at its heart are the 10 Simple Steps to Successful Family Dinners. Among them, the usual suspects: no phones at the table and no watching TV while you eat. But there’s also advice on how to keep meals fun and light without turning the table into a battlefield, which include games and topics of conversation.
Laurie is the Academy-Award winning producer of the documentary The Inconvenient Truth, and as such she calls on some of her showbiz friends – Katie Couric, the late Nora Ephron, Sheryl Crow and Bette Midler – for their tips on how they make family mealtimes work. Check out the testimonials from Tom Hanks and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss on the back; with such starry company, this could have turned into one of those meaningless celebrity cookbooks, but instead is a rich and thoughtful book. It even taught me a new word – deipnosophist: someone skilled in the art of table talk.
Oh, and then there are the recipes, of course. So far, Bang Bang Chicken Pasta and Crispy Smashed Potatoes have been a hit, as have the Asian Shrimp Rolls. Not so successful: Turkey Meatloaf – even the grown-ups didn’t like this one.
This book has a definite US-bias so a lot of the recipes aren’t something you’d naturally see in a British kitchen i.e meatloaf, succotash and a very strong emphasis on corn. That aside, the basic principle of this book – to return to old-school family dinners together – is very heartening.
The Family Dinner by Laurie David is published by Grand Central Life & Style, a division of the Hachette Book Group, 2010, and is available in all good book shops 🙂 £20.50