Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dinner in NY

What does your dinner look like?

Miho Aikawa recently debuted a project titled Dinner in NY, which shows the images of people eating dinner in the metropolitan melting pot of New York City. The portraits are wildly different: the people, the surroundings, the food, and especially the time.

One of the portraits shows a monk from Myanmar eating a full array of delicious foods. At 11:17 AM, since he doesn't eat after noon. (I shamefully admit that 11:17 is sometimes my breakfast time, not my dinner time.) Another shows a drummer eating take-out late at night (or, rather, early in the morning) after a long rehearsal. It might not be "my" definition of dinner, but it's his. I think there is something really personal and intimate about our meals and the food we eat, and that's what so cool about this project.
U Pa Mok Kha is a monk from Myanmar who cannot eat after 12 noon. Local people bring him food and after he is done, he shares the rest of the food with them. 
Age: 55 Time: 11:17 AM  Location: Jackson Heights, Queens

In beginning this project, Aikawa aimed to answer the question, "What is a quality dinner?" Is it the quality of the food, the people you eat with, or the circumstances that define the dinner?
Robert and Vivian DeRosa share Sunday family dinner, 
a long-standing tradition as Robert grew up in the same home. 
Age: Robert 60, Vivian 55  Time: 5:59 PM Location: Fresh Meadows, Queens

Of course, in today's fast-paced world, the ritual of eating a meal has really gone by the wayside. It seems more people "eat to live" rather than "live to eat." Certainly there's nothing wrong with that, but as a food lover, I really cherish my meals (I only get three a day, after all).
Matthew Vogel relaxes with a sandwich and a beer during the evening commute to Pleasantville, NY. 
Age: 30 Time: 6:59 PM  Location: White Plains, Harlem Line

According to a study in Public Health Nutrition, eating as a primary activity has declined in the past 30 years, but eating as a secondary activity has risen substantially. And half of our eating is done while doing something else: watching TV, surfing the Internet, playing Words with Friends.... (I think I see a trend here).

When I eat dinner, I am also usually doing something else. Most often I'm reading blogs, which is a great way for me to wind down after a long day. Other times I'm watching TV. Sometimes I even eat in bed, which is my favorite place to eat dinner. Especially if Friends or a really good/bad reality show is on (i.e., anything with a Kardashian or Real Housewife).
Jai Yoon Lee, a student from South Korea, has dinner in her dorm room watching her favorite Japanese TV shows. 
Age: 20  Time: 7:51 PM  Location: Greenwich Village, New York
 [Full disclosure: this is pretty much what my dinner looks like, except 
a) I wish I lived in Greenwich Village and b) it's approximately three hours later]

But for me, there's no comparison to a long, leisurely meal enjoyed in good company. Whenever my sister and my mom and I go out to eat, it's wonderful. We order a bunch of things to share, and the conversation and food are always stellar. It's a simple thing, but, as Aikawa says, it really brings the pleasure back to the table.

[Photos and Captions from Miho Aikawa Photography]


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  2. this sounds like an interesting project. i've enjoyed 2 new restaurants in midtown this week for lunch, one on my own and one with steve. really enjoyed the unique flavors, but would have liked to have had a glass of wine too. i'm definitely a live to eat person, and while i enjoy the traditional sitting around the table, i like to be able to watch tv, and do other things too. sometimes all i've had time for is to eat something over the kitchen sink!

  3. I am a live to eat person, too. and LOVE that our meals out confirm that in you as well. looking forward to a few life-worthy meals this weekend. shared. with you!