Genevieve Anderson was full of excitement before last Sunday. It would be the first time he had seen his parents in almost 10 months. But the morning of, he called the restaurant where they were. His reservation in the courtyard had been canceled due to the rain.

Anderson rescheduled for this weekend. Only this time, because Ontario will be at Step 3 of the reopening and the indoor dining room open, the weather won’t get in the way.

“If it rains, I don’t want the restaurant to call again. It’s hard to find a backup plan at the last minute, ”said Anderson, who is a chaplain for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. “I will only meet indoors because everyone is fully vaccinated and past the two week mark. Rain or shine, we are guaranteed to deliver. “

On Friday, the first day indoor dining resumes, Anderson plans to meet a friend she hasn’t seen since March 2020 at The El bar in Cobourg.

Anderson is eager to try the lavender-topped gin martini to coincide with her visit to a lavender farm that day, while she says her friend is eager to order the fried Brussels sprouts with chive aioli. The place doesn’t take reservations so if the patio is full they will sit inside.

Although Anderson enjoyed takeout at his local spots during the pandemic, he says there is something about being inside a restaurant that cannot be replicated.

“What you can’t get on a patio in many cases is the beautiful décor and atmosphere that the restaurants went to great lengths to create. You immerse yourself in the culture of the restaurant and the fantasy they are trying to create, ”he said.

The desire to eat inside a restaurant once again stems from something deeper than wanting flawless food being shoved into a take out container. Restaurants facilitate all kinds of social connections, from celebrations to first dates, and offer subtle clues to direct awkward conversations, according to mental health experts. Food is important, but the restaurant itself plays a bigger role in our lives than we think.

Steve Joordens, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto Scarborough, says that restaurants play an important role in our social interactions and in shaping our mood. Even before entering the space, there is the anticipation of food, whether it’s asking friends where they want to eat or scanning an online menu that triggers the release of dopamine, better known as the wellness hormone.

Trending on Canadian News  Election results 2022: When to expect them and what to look out for

“There’s a optimal excitation theory where the brain doesn’t want you to do something crazy every night, but also not something quiet every day. We yearn for some kind of interest and (restaurants) bring that touch of life, ”he said.

That spice extends beyond food, as a restaurant’s lighting, music, decor, and service style are calibrated to create an atmosphere of escapism. It can be a family restaurant with quirky decor, a romantic spot with mood lighting, or a sports bar with giant screens on each wall, for example.

Toronto-based registered psychotherapist Meghan watson He says diners pay for the convenience of someone else cooking and washing dishes for them, as well as for an environment that’s more relaxing than the home experience. The return of indoor dining is also a sign of returning to a way of life that allows for deeper connections in person.

“When you are sitting with someone and there is soft music playing in the background and you are enjoying a great meal, it gives people the opportunity to be aware of what they are eating, the people they are with or themselves.”

Restaurants are also the setting for family reunions and vacations, a way to “celebrate our existence and validate our humanity. It’s nice to have that connection online instead of combining it, ”Watson said.

The desire to eat inside a restaurant is also tied to nostalgia and connections to previous positive culinary experiences, Joordens said.

I tell him that the food I miss the most is all day breakfast with a greasy spoon. A plate of bacon and eggs isn’t the same if I’m not sitting at the cafeteria counter with CP24 on the TV and the waiter asking if I want more coffee.

“When we talk about memories, the brain loves situations where the same ritual takes place in different contexts. Restaurants are the prototypical example. They are comfortable contexts in which we are actors who play our role as diners and we know how the event will unfold. The best thing about dinner is that you know it ends with coffee and dessert. It’s a very structured social interaction. “

Trending on Canadian News  GECDSB launches new position, focused on educating students about mental health and mindfulness

The ritual of the typical home dining experience also helps guide conversations.

“The most important thing is the social aspect,” said Joordens. “When we eat at home, how many people eat at a table or sit on the sofa, with our feet up, watching television and ignoring each other? In restaurants, you socialize with your spouse or another partner. (Looking) at the menu: it’s a great context to preload the conversation item asking what they’re interested in ordering. “

Just as the experience of dining at home forces diners to engage in conversations with each other, it also gives them breaks (on the one hand, awkward silence can be remedied by eating).

“When the maitre d ‘sits you down or takes your order, you have time to breathe between conversations and you have the opportunity to regroup and bring up another topic,” said Joordens. “It’s a great context for humans to speak in a deeper way and develop active listening, which leads to trust. A lot of that begins in a restaurant. Food relaxes us. ”

Joordens uses the example of business lunches and how people feel more comfortable during a meal compared to being in a conference room. Wine also helps, of course, he adds.

For those who spent the last year going on virtual dates, Watson says there are things that can only be picked up when sharing a meal in person.

“You really see their social graces, their gestures. You might go out with someone and find that you hate the way they beat up on food that you couldn’t pick up via Zoom, or that they have different values ​​when it comes to tips or how they treat a server. Restaurants offer a place to collect that data. “

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.