Do you ever think about why dining is such an essential part of our lives?
You may not, but I do.
So many conversations are spent planning where to eat out, what food to buy at the grocery store, or who is going to win the next season of Chopped.
Sure, it’s partly because humans love to eat delicious food. But, it’s also about so much more than that. Whether it’s eating in with my parents, or trying new restaurants in New York City, I’ve realized there is a much deeper meaning to sharing meals with someone.
Growing up, my parents always made an effort to have the whole family sit down to eat dinner together every night. Whether we were eating the same meal or not, we were at the dinner table at the same time. Then, I didn’t completely understand why this was a big deal. I mean, my friends didn’t always eat with their parents, and they still seemed normal.
As I got older, and especially now, I understand why nightly dinners together were so important. Despite how crappy my day was, or how stressed I felt about any variable of life, the consistency of being around my family every night somehow made everything seem like it was going to be okay.
When I look back on my childhood, I’m not going to remember every meal my mom prepared, but what I am going to remember is sitting with my parents talking about our days, or the latest Greensboro gossip almost every night. I’m going to remember how no matter what my parents or brother were going through, they were sitting right there with me, probably seeking solace in these nightly dinners too.
I also think making plans to eat out with friends and family are equally as important as eating in. Again, it’s not necessarily about the food, but more about the people surrounding me at the table and the conversations we share. Whether they’re full of laughter, sometimes tears, or just random thoughts, I have food to thank for these memories.
The past two summers I lived far away from home. I was in Copenhagen, Denmark, followed by New York, New York the next year. Moving to a new city and only knowing a handful of people is scary. And I’ve learned how challenging it is to meet new people.
I would say most of my money spent in these cities was on food and drinks. At first, I was concerned with my spending on food. It seemed ridiculous. How could I justify spending $100 a week on eating out? Then, I realized, again, that eating out wasn’t just about the food, but creating relationships with people in a foreign city.
In both cases, I saw how much easier it is to get to know somebody over coffee or lunch. In New York, it was brunch. Something about the intimacy of sharing a meal together really allowed me to open up to others and create friendships. Maybe it’s learning what kind of food someone likes, or seeing how they interact with strangers in public, or something else entirely, but I feel like you know someone so much more after eating together.
Ultimately, these meals turned into excuses to hangout with my friends and explore new cities together.
Do you agree?
Maybe I’m just over analytical and read into everything too much. But, I think I have a valid point here. We use food as an excuse to hangout. Whether it’s with my family every night for dinner, or when I’m trying to meet new people in a new city, dining with others fosters consistency, friendships and comfort.
Yeah, eating is about the food, I know. But maybe it’s also about something more. What do you think?