Statement Dining | December 19, 2016 | Food
The great dining revival:
Why eating at home is back in vogue
Well there’s a dilemma for the technophobes.
It turns out that social media isn’t the bogeyman that’s killing conversation and turning us into screen-gazing zombies. In fact, Instagram culture is part of a movement that’s leading us back around the convivial dining table and prompting a new pride in entertaining at home.
The findings come from this year’s Waitrose Food and Drink Report, which discovered the British are using food as social currency and spearheading a dinner party revival.
The sharing culture
In the UK, a fifth of us – that’s 9 million people – has posted a picture of their food on social media (or sent one to a friend) in the past month.
Unsurprisingly, it’s most popular among 18-34 year olds but the trend is gaining traction with all age groups. At the time of writing, there are 195,745,177 posts hashtagged ‘food’ on Instagram – and 981,000 hungry people have clicked to follow healthy eating blogger Ella Mills’ DeliciouslyElla posts.
Although dining continues to move away from formality, Waitrose’s report found that the new focus on photogenic food means ‘people design and take pride in dishes and then they share them with the world… Perhaps the greatest forum in ‘self-expression Britain’ remains our own kitchens’.
Of course, we sometimes want to show off a little. About 44% of us admitted making more effort with our cooking if we think someone might snap it and post it on social media. If that sounds shallow, it’s not all about aesthetics – a beautifully-designed plate of food can add to the pleasure of eating.
As Natalie Mitchell, Waitrose’s head of brand development, explained: ‘Food is about experience and emotion. And in a connected world, people want to share that.’
Authenticity and nurturing
Image: Linda Lomelino/Instagram
Although the desire to indulge and nurture our friends and family has grown, today’s home entertaining places more emphasis on sharing plates or guests bringing their own dishes to create the feast.
The emphasis is on fun and sharing – and the chance to show off your signature dish.
The notion of nurturing friends has led to an appetite for discovering the stories behind our food. We want to know about origins and provenance – in a nutshell, ‘heritage is the new local’.
On the table
Pinterest-awareness when it comes to plating up has led to increased sales in distinctive tableware. Michelin-starred chefs such as Tom Kerridge led the way, diverting from the large white flatware that has dominated restaurants for years, in favour of more interesting designs.
Translated to the home, this means we’re turning to colour, pattern, generous bowls, sharing platters and boards.
But in the same way we’re falling in love with the heritage of food, we increasingly want to talk about the stories behind our tableware too.
It’s where a brand such as Wedgwood comes into its own. Wedgwood’s global design director Richard Delaney and his team are able to plunder that unique archive to pull out traditional design motifs that can be tweaked, recoloured and freshly rendered to create a contemporary look.
With eating out less of a rare treat today, the survey discovered a quarter of Britons would rather stay in for a date with a partner. That doesn’t mean a lack of effort – all the signs are that these evenings are characterised by creativity in the kitchen, driven by a desire to nurture.
There’s also a big focus on indulgent ‘chill nights’, when we stay in and create special meals.
Good Food Guide editor Rochelle Venables commented: ‘As eating out has become more commonplace, the expectation of high-quality food at home has risen. It’s about everyday treats.’
Lead image: Jasper Conran Platinum