Food brings people together
We all eat; usually 3 times a day (sometimes more). But some people are so busy they don’t even think about it. They just find something really fast and get on with their day. But food is much more than something we eat. Food brings people together and these are some of the many ways it does.
1) Dining around the table: At the end of the day, everyone is tired and wants to retire to their own rooms. Families should encourage dinner around the table, if not every night, then at least once a week. Gathering around the table with food encourages group communication. Mom can ask how your math test went while she passes you the mashed potatoes. Jack can ask Jill if her boss was as bad today as yesterday. Meeting for dinner provides a solid 30 minutes of family involvement each day. Also, you can recruit the whole family to cook dinner. This provides a bonding experience along with life skills for the younger members of the family.
2) Food crosses cultural boundaries: You will always hear people say that the best way to get to know someone is by eating their food. They don’t just mean eating Sarah’s cookies and deciding she’s a good person. Sometimes it is not the easiest thing for someone who has lived in the United States all their life to understand someone who has moved from India. Food is a way of introducing yourself and a way of getting to know them. Someone can prepare their favorite dish for you and suddenly it’s like you know them better. This applies additionally to travel. Let’s say you’re walking the streets of Verona, holding your map (probably upside down) and trying to figure out how to ask someone for help. You are suddenly drawn to the smells coming out of the little bakery to your right. Walking in feels like home in that strange neighborhood.
3) Expressing emotion: people show their love in different ways. Food always works! Parents prepare lunches for their children. They cut their PB&J into triangles and remember to remove the crust and they can even slip a little note in there too. Even when you grow up, you can tell your mom you had a bad day and she might call you to order cake and wine! It’s the same thought process when people make soup for a sick friend. It may not necessarily speed up their recovery, but it nurtures them and shows that you care – you took time out of your day. Traditionally, when someone is homebound / recovering from surgery / death of a family member / etc. people bring them food. Baking that plate of lasagna may take an hour, but it’s a relief to them after a long day in the hospital that they don’t have to cook.
4) Holidays: Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas have meaning, but events do join them. Every time someone thinks of Thanksgiving, they think of turkey! Your uncle spends all day frying it in the garage with all the other men in your family sitting around him. All of your aunts spend the day preparing all of their designated side dishes. On Christmas Day and Christmas Eve, you can almost bet someone in the house is cooking. Some may be gift-packed cookie tins and someone may have a ham in the oven. At the end of the day, that fourth Thursday in November and December 25, the whole family is sitting around the poster that presents everyone’s hard work and love.
Hopefully everyone has been aware of some of the ways that food plays a role in our lives. If not, I hope you see things differently now when your neighbor brings that casserole!