The Business of Memories – Are We Truly Eating?
It has become fashionable nowadays to romanticise nostalgia and sell memories. Businesses like Facebook and Instagram jump to mind when we talk about the sale and marketing of memories – with their constant reminders to share and revel in old memories. Ironically people often miss out being inthe moment when they try to capture said moments for sharing to their social media sites.
The benchmark in which we review our food against has shifted dramatically. With a greater emphasis on what looks pretty and nice, we are willing to sacrifice taste and quality if it comes with more recognition on social media.
Does the food look bad but taste great? Such a waste.
Does the food look divine but taste bad? We just need it for the pretty pictures.
Does the food look and taste heavenly? Jackpot.
It’s all about the picture. Sharing the perfect (food) picture.
According to a 2016 survey conducted by British supermarket chain Waitrose on their shoppers, a third of those aged 18 to 34 regularly post pictures of their meals on social media. Rob Collins, the grocer’s managing director described food as the “hottest social currency”.
This state of mind is also reflected in the industry as for some restaurateurs, it’s no longer about the food. It’s about getting the photos of the food on the ‘gram, and reaping the benefits of this free marketing; with some spending years to making their business Instagrammable.
To this end, restaurateurs tap on trends to create menus that drive ‘gramming habits. And the ones to lose out are the diners – who sacrifice likes for their post for what could have been a delightfully communal meal.
Singapore is no stranger to the Instagram food trend, or as the social media savvy would call it, #foodporn. Apart from creative recreations of local flavours like laksa and chili crab, rainbow food also made the list of local food trends and it wasn’t just for the taste.
Or is it all about the company? And enjoying the moment?
Perhaps this is the reason why there is a recent burgeoning surge in restaurants banning mobile phones from their dining tables. Mindful eating and the appreciation of food are some benefits of this drive to remove the pressure of focusing on the food for the ‘gram. This actually benefits both diners and restaurateurs! Diners enjoy the experience more and restauranteurs can focus on giving you the best experience, rather than the best photo.
Numerous studies have been conducted to explore the numbing impact mobile phones have on social interactions. According to a journal published on Environment and Behaviour, removing the presence of mobile phones actually increases the quality of conversation and level of empathy between the participants. Imagine that – actually talking to each other when sitting together at the table, whether it’s for dinner or drinks!
More than just a ban, this move rides on an alternative marketing direction – that only the open-minded realises that the true joy to a shared meal is about conviviality and real-life conversations.
Spending time together, connect and create memories you experienced.
This is a philosophy that inspires the premise of my book, Table Tales. To me, the best way to spend time with my loved ones is by sharing a meal together. I believe that an extraordinary dining experience allows us to truly unplug from our digital lives and provides the opportunity to bond and create memories with those who truly matter.
The strong sense of kinship and hospitality also means that people tend to enjoy meals in groups rather than as an individual when going out. So take advantage of that and catch up over dinner and drinks!
Since the advent of social media, in particular Instagram, every F&B outlet has been in on the #gramwar. Each one vying to create something unique and creative to draw the crowd and to make an impression. I hope Table Tales helps to surpass the passing nature of social media posts. To take those fleeting memories that last but a second and a swipe on the mobile phones, and transform them into something lasting and dear.
Because at the end of the day, we just want you to enjoy some really, really, good meals.
Table Tales features our favourite restaurants in Singapore. Every year we try and test 50+ restaurants and share our favourites with you in our lovely book. Restaurants are invited to join and cannot pay to be featured. We see our book as your little shortlist to experience special moments, unique dinner experiences to share with that special someone in your life.
With your copy of Table Tales you will enjoy special privileges at each restaurant. It’s their way of saying, thanks for visiting and your support! We hope you had a great night and here’s something from us.
That’s not all though – your book will also serve as your personal memento of time well spent when you meet the chef and (s)he signs your book at the end of the evening – a keepsake of all the memories you have created.
What are those privileges? You will get a complimentary main course OR 20% off both set menus, when you’re a table of two. Book your table now, highlighting you’ll bring Table Tales and have a wonderful evening.