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 quick and move on through their day. But food is so much more than something we eat. Food brings people together and here are a few of the many ways it does so.
1) Eating Dinner Around the Table: At the end of the day everybody is tired and wants to withdraw to their own rooms. Families should encourage eating dinner around the table if not every night, at least once a week. Gathering around the table with food encourages group communication. Mom can ask how you did on your math test while she passes you the mashed potatoes. Jack can ask Jill if her boss was as mean today as he was yesterday. Getting together for dinner provides a solid 30 minutes of family involvement each day. Additionally, you can recruit the whole family to prepare dinner. This provides a bonding experience along with life skills for the younger family members.
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 eat Sarah’s cookies and decide she is a nice person. Sometimes it isn’t the easiest thing for someone who has lived in the US their whole lives to understand someone that has moved from India. Food is a way to introduce yourself and a way to get to know them. Someone can cook you their favorite dish and it’s like you know them better all of a sudden. This applies additionally to travel. Say you’re walking down the streets of Verona, holding your map (probably upside down) and trying to figure out how to ask someone for help. You’re suddenly drawn to the smells coming out of the small bakery to your right. Walking in feels like home to you in that strange neighborhood.
3) Expressing Emotion: People show their love in different ways. Food always works! Parents pack lunches for their children. They cut your PB&J in triangles and remember to take off the crust and might even slip a little note in there too. Even when you’re grown you can tell your mom you had a bad day and she might call you over for 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 nourishes them and shows you care- you took the time out of your day. Traditionally when someone is homebound/recovering from a surgery/a family member passes/etc. people bring them food. Baking that plate of lasagna might take you an hour but to them it’s a relief after a long day at the hospital that they don’t have to cook.
4) The Holidays: Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas have a meaning, but events attach to them. Anytime someone thinks about Thanksgiving they think of turkey! Your uncle spends all day frying it out in the garage with every other male in your family sitting around it. All your aunts spend the day preparing all their designated side dishes. On Christmas Eve and Day, you can almost bet somebody in the house is cooking. Some might be cookie tins being packaged as gifts and somebody might have a ham in the oven. At the end of the day on that 4th Thursday in November and December 25th, the whole family is sitting around the spread featuring everyone’s hard work and love.
Hopefully you’ve all already been aware of some of the ways food plays a part in our lives. If not, I hope now you’ll look at things differently when your neighbor brings that casserole over!