What ‘Guten Appetit’ means

Having your Indian family visit you in Europe comes with a steady supply of delectable Indian food.

On one of our flights together, we went prepared with packets of idlis smeared with molagapodi (a spicy paste similar to chutney). As soon as the seat-belt sign went off, we flipped open our tray tables and unpacked those heavenly fluffs. Just as we were going to tuck in, I passed a side-ward glance across the three of us seated side-by-side and my mind whispered “Guten Appetit”.

Germans take lunch time seriously. Colleagues lunch together, and wait for everyone else’s food before eating. Once the dishes arrive, they sometimes compliment a dish that looks good. Finally, everybody wishes each other Guten Appetit, and digs in.

I had never given this ritual much of thought. But when I caught myself doing it on that flight, during a rare, precious meal with my family, I realized how it signifies that every meal together is a celebration. This casual remark primes us to take a moment to acknowledge that. Of course, just like any other ritual, it could also turn mechanical without any real significance. But in its essence, wishing people at the table can extend beyond just appreciation of food.

As we grow older, the years roll by and blow past us before we realize it. The blessed among us are those who pause to celebrate life’s most rewarding moments, for they lead the happiest lives. And Guten Appetit, when done right, helps us pay attention to some of these moments.

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