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Issue 14 – Christmas 2022

Nunc Dimittis

Tables for Twelve

On family dinner.


For years, I’ve found that the most enjoyable regular column in the New Yorker is “Tables for Two,” which runs at the front of the book. Its format is simple: each week a contributor to the magazine eats at a different restaurant in the city and writes up a short profile of the meal or the chef or whatever else strikes his or her fancy. Stars are given or subtracted and dishes are recommended—but that’s not really the point. Tables for Two is a casual column, designed to ease couples into dining with a sensible chuckle. 

Sometimes I wonder if such a column could be written with a large family in mind. I think of my own, for example. When we eat out, which is not often, it is almost invariably an intergenerational affair. You have me, my wife, and my daughter, of course. We’re usually accompanied by my parents, and, at the best of times, my six siblings as well. Every so often, a grandmother tags along too. When we were all young, we piled into a blue fifteen-passenger van that in many parking lots occupied two spots. These days, now that we are all grown and moved out, we descend on the restaurant in five different S.U.V.s.

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About the author

Nic Rowan

Nic Rowan is managing editor of The Lamp.