The pandemic forced us out of restaurants. That’s an opportunity to literally think outside the box—of four walls and our ideas of what dining experiences can be.

Restaurants have become objects of immense desire—since we’ve been kept away from them for so long. But changes to the restaurant as we knew it don’t have to be about deprivation, argues a provocative essay from Corinne Mynatt in Mold. Reminding us that the restaurant was a relatively recent invention (from the 1700s, a youngster compared to the cosmos), she points out that humans have gathered around fire and food in many different ways. Why not make “temporary” eating pavilions part of our eating landscape now, rather than simply trying to replicate brick-and-mortar restaurants? Virtual dining could include communal online dinners that link eaters across continents in consumption and performance, and eating seasonally could take shape in wild and wondrous ways that allow us to be human together. “Why not dine out seasonally, feeling and appreciating nature at each moment of the year?” she asks. Well, we can think of some practical limitations. But her point is that these are design challenges that require us to dive deep into our imaginations, yet get out of our heads at the same time.