Letter: In defence of the family meal

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is, I suppose, no surprise that given Jane Jakeman's staple diet of McDona1d's fare, one of their chips seems to have attached itself to her shoulder. I don't see how having a group of friends round for a meal can be considered 'snobbish'. The suggestion that such an occasion exists 'because it creates an illusion of family life' is ridiculous; and the idea that a family meal is nothing but an enforced 'tyranny' even more so.

I do not deny that hamburger chains can be convenient and fun, but surely not every day of the week. Where better than at the table for the family to meet and to talk (both of which they seem to do all too rarely these days)? Where else will children be exposed to, and able to take part in, adult conversation, having the opportunity to air their views and to hear those of others?

The dinner table is a forum for debate, both with family and with friends, and to call it 'oppressive' is to undermine the value of two of the most fundamental pleasures of civilised human society - eating and talking. Most important of all, the family meal can be great fun]

As for the food itself, national and regional dishes are a reflection of different cultures and of different traditions. To call eating a pasta dish in Italy as opposed to a hamburger 'snobbish' indicates a lack of understanding, disappointing in a food columnist but little short of shocking in an art historian.

Yours faithfully,

ALEXANDRA E. WESTON

Ampleforth,

Yorkshire

30 July

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