Screenshot of the dinner table scene from the movie Brooklyn
In Brooklyn, Irish immigrant Eilis (played by Saoirse Ronan, middle on the right) finds herself having “colourful” meals with her boarding house mates in America.

Every time the bickering dinner scenes come up in the Oscar-nominated film Brooklyn, it’s enjoyable to watch as the ladies gossip, poke fun and snipe at each other. As hilarious as each scene is, it’s not so funny when it’s happening at your own dinner table.

So here are five ways to help you eat peacefully and happily during mealtimes and not let the “Hunger Games” begin…

Mind Your Manners
Make dining pleasant for everyone by setting a good example of table manners – eat with your mouth close and chew quietly, ask for something on the other side of the table instead of reaching across, make use of the serving utensils, say “thank you” when something is served, etc. The most important thing about table manners is that if there are kids around, they will pick up on your behaviour and emulate your actions.

Tech Them Off
Ever had a meal when your husband is on the phone for work matters, your older one is hitting “likes” on Instagram, and the younger one is swiping away on his iPad game screen? Gadgets make our life easier, but they are the worst distractions at the dining table. Make a rule: Keep them away until the meal is over.

Keep Private Matters, Private
One way to enjoy food happily is to talk about happy things. So keep all serious and private matters off the dining table, including money and health matters (these can wait till you get some private time with the other person to discuss).

Control Your Convo
Not only should private matters be avoided, but sensitive topics too. If you are the host, you can request that certain topics like politics, scandals and sex be avoided; steer the conversation away from these topics if they start coming up as not everyone will be comfortable with them. For family dinners, you can discuss with your husband beforehand and set rules on what should or should not be discussed at the dining table.

Let’s Talk About Food
So what can we talk about at the dining table then? Other than small talk and asking each other how their day was, one of the best ways to have a hearty conversation (and in turn a hearty meal) is to talk about the food. Ask how’s your first-time Filet Mignon, whether anyone can taste the wok hei in the fried rice, or if the spice level is just right in your Baked Chilli Tuna Pasta. If you are the chef, it allows for some friendly criticisms to improve your cooking. Remember: Food brings people together, so dine and be merry… and lose the drama.

Photo: Brooklyn/Twentieth Century Fox (Singapore)