Would You Rather, But Better

We started doing such a fun thing at dinner…

A week or so ago, as I was slicing up a just-baked, warm loaf of No-Knead bread, my 16-year-old asked me a question: If you had to choose fresh bread dunked in olive oil or fresh bread spread with really good butter which one would it be? It was a no-brainer for me: Butter wins every time. But it reminded me of a regular segment on the Bon Appetit Foodcast — when they have guests on the podcast, they do a Lightning Round of questions at the end, and ask the guest to pick one thing over another for the rest of his or her life. They always end with “olive oil or butter?” but they personalize the other questions based on the guest. I told my daughter this and she immediately replied, “Do one for me.”

So I finished my warm buttered bread, and — because it’s quarantine and I welcome the opportunity to stretch anything into as long an activity as possible —  started brainstorming questions for her on my computer. She was hovering and wanted me to ask them right away, but I told her she’d have to wait for dinner so the whole family could chime in. The questions were all over the place; they ranged from travel (Yosemite or Death Valley?) to entertainment (Omar or Avon? We’re watching The Wire) to crushes (haha, like I’d ever say here!) and naturally, to food (Waffles or Crepes? Bao Buns or Soup Dumplings? Acai or Pitaya?) The trick, of course, just like with Either Or, is to make the decisions as specific and as difficult as possible because the best part, from a parent’s perspective at least, is hearing about the rationales for their choices. If it’s a hard choice, they really search their souls to bare their truths. As soon as I finished, her older sister asked me to do one for her, which, of course, we did the next night.

Obviously, it doesn’t have to be played at the dinner table, but for whatever reason, the game seemed to infuse a regular old weeknight with a little celebratory vibe. And these days, I’ll take that whenever and wherever I can get it.

P.S. How to get young kids to talk at dinner and the best conversation starter.