How do you feed hungry teen girls?
This isn’t a trick question. Recently it was a situation my husband and I faced on a busy weekday. The solution was to seek out one of their favourite foods — pasta — and head to Prezzo.
We went as part of the BritMums #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge, sponsored by Prezzo. For the project, bloggers from around the country went with their children, from tots to teens, enjoying family-style meals and the closeness that comes from sitting around a table together eating from the La Famiglia menu. The Prezzo restaurant chain has more than 280 restaurants across the UK in shapes and sizes ranging from old libraries to harbourside eateries taking in the view. (Find your closest Prezzo here.) We went to the one in the Wandsworth Southside shopping center.
Choosing our pasta
On the La Famiglia menu you have your choice of either Penne Arrabiata, Spaghetti Bolognese, Spaghetti Carbonara or Penne Alla Rusticana. You all choose the same pasta and it comes to the table in a big bowl. I thought this would be difficult but among these teens, the choice was unanimous: Spaghetti Carbonara.
That’s one thing that made ordering and the entire dining experience stress-free and easy. As a result, the food came easily and all we had to decide on was our drinks.
We also got garlic bread and a side salad. Sometimes side salads can feel a bit like an obligation to eat once they arrive. This one was really crisp, with cucumber, peppers and onions. It tasted marvelously fresh and was large enough that my husband and I could both share. (The La Famiglia menu is positioned as a meal for a family of four; we found it easily fed all 5 of us.)
There was a lovely little moment of drama when our big sharing bowl of pasta arrived, the carbonara sauce giving a tasty shine to the noodles and slices of bacon arrayed on top. I had thought that my husband would be serving, but when the tongs arrived, my daughter announced, “I’ll serve.”
It was a moment that brought a smile to my face. Although, because my daughter currently abhors us displaying any pleasure, I quickly suppressed it.
Perhaps the best aspect of the meal was the chat — we got to talk to our daughter and her 2 friends and they actually talked back! They started off by ironically playing food Sudoku on the kids activity sheet, something which I think they actually unironically enjoyed doing together.
We learned about which teachers are “horrible” and which ones are great, what the DT teacher said to Alice and who needs new shorts for the Barcelona field trip.
This is what the Prezzo La Famiglia menu was great for: providing an opportunity for a real family moment, with conversation, jokes, laughter and tidbits that are a rare treat for a parent of a secondary student.
As for the verdict on the food itself? “This is the best pasta ever!” my daughter said. Her friends quickly agreed.
“Even better than my pasta?” my husband asked?
“Well…” she answered, not wanting to hurt his feelings. “I think so…”
I didn’t say anything, but it was perfectly cooked pasta with a cream sauce that clung to each noodle, the smoothness of the sauce jazzed up with the bit of bacon. The best pasta ever? Well, I couldn’t possibly say…
3 tips to get teens to talk at mealtimes
Invite their friends
Teens actually love to talk amongst themselves, and when you ask a question of the group — about school or their friends or their exams — one will answer and the others will jump in. You’ll find out loads more than if you ask your individually.
Make the food a part of the experience
The family-style food, the drama of the big bowl of pasta, the fact that everyone ate the same thing made conversations about what we were eating flow naturally, and also encouraged these teens to dig deeper to describe their experience beyond “it was good”.
Prepare a few conversation starters
We didn’t need any on this occasion, but I often find it’s fun to play Mad, Sad and Glad — each person names something that day that made them feel each emotion along with a little story of why. The answers can be slight or serious but we always learn something interesting about our daughter’s life and also give her a sense of what’s happened in our day as well.
This is a sponsored post, as part of BritMums #PrezzoLaFamiglia paid campaign.