The longtable dining experience

Longtable dining experience at the edge of the Okanagan Lake in Summerland

One of the best things about living the Okanagan country life is that it is conducive to creating community. Here, you can easily get to know your neighbour, your grocer, your breadmaker, and in general pretty much everyone in town will come to know your name in no time after you move here.

Summerland, like most towns in the Okanagan is in the heart of the wine community. Even without wine there is a basis for forming a link to others, but when you add wine to the mix, it puts things in a whole new light. Over dinner you suddenly find yourself exclaiming heartily and joyously to the neighbour sitting next to you, “Isn’t this fun!” or “I’m really glad we’re getting an opportunity to socialize.” The wine helps.

It seems un-coincidental that with the ironical downside of ‘social’ media being that it can cause feelings of separateness from our fellow being, there will be more and more ‘communal dinners’ such as the ones we, at SummerLand Online Magazine began having back in February. (Read about them under Food + Wine.) Or events such as the God’s Mountain dinners put on by Dana and Cameron Ewart of Joy Road Catering.

One of the strongest urges in humans, and dare I say, apes and other animals, is to connect with each other and when our busy lives disrupt those connections we still are drawn to finding ways of making it happen. The Europeans and especially the Italians and French have for centuries been having communal dinners under the pergola or in the vines.

Another example of the communal dining experience, is the roving outdoor dinner series from California, ‘Outstanding in the Field’ also written about on this magazine – which is successful not only by design but also because this type of connection is necessary for the well-being of each of us. They state their mission as being; “to re-connect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local farmers and food artisans who cultivate it.” But the other positive aspect of such a coming together, is that connection that is formed that happily allows one to feel part of one’s community .

‘Slow Food’ and the slow life

The Okanagan is the perfect place in Canada to further the business of ‘haute gastronomie’ – it is not by accident that there are only two towns in Canada with ‘Slow Food’ or ‘Cittaslow’ accreditation and one of them is right across the lake from us in Summerland; the town of Naramata. People from the city who are yearning for a simplified, less hurried and more easily appreciated lifestyle, soon find themselves looking at places like the somewhat soporific Okanagan with its vineyards, gorgeous skies and miles-long lake.

Our Summerland Online wine tasting dinners have been an adventure in furthering not only wine appreciation but also have inadvertently proven to be about people appreciation as well. It is a style of socializing whose time has definitely come and it would be no surprise to see more of these types of events taking place and would be a welcome addition to any community. Like the couple who appealed to Kim Stansfield and John Gordon, owners of Summerland’s Valentine Farm and Vinegar Works, to let them hold their wedding at the farm. The result was a series of long tables among the vines – adorned with white tablecloths – it was a thing of beauty that they will never forget. Valentine Farm – how apt a name is that?

Anyway let’s have more community events and long table dinners and welcome one and all. And Nadine from Vancouver, who wants to spend more time up here and possibly even move here – you would be welcome with open arms. Cheers!