You've made dinner plans with X. Can you predict where the conversation will head. And what will be said?
Do you find yourself answering on auto, circuiting the same route of words and topics?
When was the last time you were truly held in a conversation? When your mind didn’t wander off and you were instead, sparked?
Words are beautiful. We get pleasure from reading novels as we escape and explore life outside us, and equally, as we break to a new, far-descriptive language, sometimes as if learning how to speak again.
And words are inspiring. We line up one podcast episode after another, choosing speech over song. On what could have been another morning in transit or afternoon at work, we’re shaken up to think more or do better.
Can we delimit the beauty and power of words from books and podcasts, authors & experts, to everyday life with normal people? Don’t we have deeper stories to tell, and can we contribute to each other’s lives?
A remedy lies in an idea that is familiar to us around eating but that we don’t currently apply to talking: namely, a menu. A good menu inspires us to eat different. Our chef Michele thought he knew a lot about eggplants, coming from Italy where the nightshade blooms in eggplant parmigiana and caponata. A friend took him to a Japanese restaurant and ordered nasu no dengaku - fried eggplant with sweet miso dressing. He recalls to me the story with excitement, being opened up to something so delicious and new.
A conversation menu, similarly, can inspire us to talk different. Pair each course with one question like below. Or you can have each dinner guest write a question into a hat, to be picked out one by one and answered around the table.
Who are you really? Who is behind the mask that you show to the rest of the world?
What are your biggest goals for your life? What progress have you made in attaining them?
Apart from my company, what are you grateful for today?
For more inspiration, we recommend conversationstartersworld.com and the book ‘Thinking and Eating’ by The School of Life. We can, on request, hand-write bespoke conversation cards for your dinner booking.