One Sunday morning in 1981, I came home from church and my soul was on fire. Not because anything exceptional had transpired during the 10:30 service, but because of the way my house smelled when I walked in the side door. My dad was making Indian dishes for the first time. Whatever was happening in that kitchen was weird and wild, and it twined into all my senses, drawing me toward the simmering pot and away from everything else I'd understood as food in my nine years on Earth thus far.
My mother had made most of our meals up to that point — dutifully, methodically and not unkindly, but as a means to an end, getting her husband and two daughters fed. Though she cares greatly for the communion of the dinner table, the artistry of its contents doesn’t especially concern her. It’s not a failing on her part at all — just a seed that had neither been planted nor encouraged to bloom by first-generation American parents who were grateful to have anything to eat at all.
What's the strangest thing you've ever asked for at a restaurant?
It was probably nowhere near as strange as the kinds of things I've been requesting all the time lately. And so have countless other dads like me.
We're part of a legion called the HPWs: the Husbands of Pregnant Wives.
Editor's note: Bruce Feiler is a columnist and the author of "The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go Out and Play, & Much More." To hear more from Feiler, don't miss "Sanjay Gupta MD," at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday and 4:30 p.m. ET Sunday.
A tip for stressed-out parents: Beware conventional wisdom.
If parents have heard anything in the last few years, it's that family dinner is great for kids. And there is research that suggests this. Children who regularly eat dinner with their families are less likely to drink, smoke, take drugs or develop eating disorders.
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That was the question posed last week, and more than 21,000 readers weighed in saying that restaurants with stated policies about children's unruly behavior would actually entice them to spend money there.
While Firefly executive chef Danny Bortnick has taken steps to make his restaurant more kid-friendly, it is a two-way street - your kids need to act right.
And before you go off thinking Bortnick is some kind of booster seat hater, he is a father - and his restaurant is in the middle of Washington D.C.'s Dupont Circle: a densely populated urban neighborhood often busy with families and young kids.
Five Ways to Make Your Child More Restaurant-Friendly: Danny Bortnick