An Ode to Mood Lighting

Gentle Readers, the Practical Cook enjoys eating in the dark, or the near dark. Not all of the time, but there is something to be said for mood lighting, and that rarely means floodlighting. Not that the summer sun at breakfast is not a delight, but there is something very special about food in the near dark.

Bread by candlelight at Gregoria's Kitchen in Durham

Bread by candlelight at Gregoria's Kitchen in Durham

You see, sometimes it looks better. And sometimes the enforced quiet, the sensory deprivation of dimmed lights, help calm and focus the conversation. I give bonus points for any restaurant that goes for ambiance through lighting.

Even sunflowers appreciate some down time.

Even sunflowers appreciate some down time.

Now, an Ode to Mood Lighting:

1. Light a candle (damn the darkness). Couldn’t resist. Candles make any occasion more festive, not just birthdays. It’s a great way to focus the family. We’ve had to use them more than once when the power went out, but I’m going to make a point of lighting up more often.

Simple votive, fancy holder. Winner! (At The Standard in Chapel Hill)

Simple votive, fancy holder. Winner! (At The Standard in Chapel Hill)

2. Dim the lights. In The Practical Cook Kitchen, the last thing I do before I sit down is turn off all but the lights over the table. It’s a great way to signal the start of the meal, as well as to calm and focus the kids. If you have a lot of lighting in your eating area, give it a try, use a dimmer if need be.

Kerosene lamps light The Farmhouse Steakhouse in Chapel Hill. Great light, a bit strong smelling!

Kerosene lamps light The Farmhouse Steakhouse in Chapel Hill. Great light, a bit strong smelling!

3. Choose darkness. You can dine later in the summer, or dine outside at dusk. What could be more fun (minus the mosquitoes of course)? If you have kids, consider a restaurant with lower lighting. For one thing, that’s built-in entertainment, for another, that’s added protection against anyone witnessing table manners in progress. Flying peas go undetected against dark paneling.

The right light can focus and calm.

The right light can focus and calm.

So there. Dark restaurants aren’t just about romance, they’re about all forms of intimacy. Get close  to your food, snuggle up and break out the votives. I won’t tell.

Do you like to dine by candlelight? Post a comment today! (Turn the lights on first, the comments section is just below.)

Send candles, good ideas, and challenges to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Up next, How to Dress a Simple Salad.

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