1. Food Can Express Love.
Dan Dailey – Romance  Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“Cooking for someone just happens to be one of the most profound expressions of love.”
Wayne Gerard Trotman
Making and sharing food with someone we love can be an intimate and gratifying experience. Wining and dining another person is an indication of caring and a wish to look after and satisfy them.
From our earliest days, food and nurturing are intimately connected. Eating with others can strengthen social bonds, bring comfort and enhance companionship and togetherness.
Sharing food with friends can be a catalyst in terms of strengthening social bonds; being invited to dinner at friends most often feels accepting and amicable.
“Eating is so intimate. It’s very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you’re inviting a person into your life.”
Vincent van Gogh – Interior of the Restaurant Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“Cooking is all about people. Food is maybe the only universal thing that really has the power to bring everyone together. No matter what culture, everywhere around the world, people get together to eat.”
“In her book Eating Together, Alice Julier argues that dining together can radically shift people’s perspectives: It reduces people’s perceptions of inequality, and diners tend to view those of different races, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds as more equal than they would in other social scenarios.”
John Sloan – Renganeschi’s Saturday Night  Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”
2. Food Evokes Shared Memories.
Sergei Yurievich Sudeikin – Tea Drinkers Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
Food can be a way of remembering people and events in our lives. Such memories can bring us together, as we reminisce about shared experiences from the past.
I can picture my Russian grandfather pouring his tea into a saucer, and drinking it through a cube of sugar which he held between his teeth. It was a noisy process, and as a I child I watched him in fascination.
Recipes are handed down through families in a way that keeps past relationships alive in the present, continuing old traditions and instantly reminding us of those who may now be gone, through our senses of taste and smell.
“Most of us have fond memories of food from our childhood. Whether it was our mom’s homemade lasagna or a memorable chocolate birthday cake, food has a way of transporting us back to the past.”
Eating those foods, and remembering, can enable people to feel closer and more connected, past and present.
Nowhere is this more graphically described than in Proust’s book, À La Recherche Du Temps Perdu. On dipping a madeleine in his tea, memories and sensations from the past come powerfully cascading into his consciousness.
“And once I had recognized the taste of the crumb of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-flowers which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like the scenery of a theatre to attach itself to the little pavilion, opening on to the garden, which had been built out behind it for my parents ……”
Marcel Proust. À La Recherche Du Temps Perdu.
For most of us, food is powerfully linked to emotions and memories. Fish and chips out of newspaper, liberally sprinkled with salt, vinegar, gravy or ketchup, perhaps shared on a seaside bench, is a common childhood memory for many.
David Hockney – A Fish and Chip Shop 
[Of course, not everyone has happy memories of food; some people may find food reminds them of unpleasant experiences, and it can be linked to trauma, punishment, power and control, guilt and shame.
Sometimes people develop a dislike of or anxiety about foods that may be connected to unpleasant experiences in the past.]
Samuel Bak – Teatime Memory Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
3. Food And The Marking Of An Occasion.
There is no doubt that food connects people and brings them together; the diversity of food choices reflects both identity and culture.
John Singer Sargent. A Dinner Table at Night
“The flickering of the blaze showed preparations for a cosy dinner, with hot plates baking through and through before the fire, and deep red curtains, ready to be drawn to shut out cold and darkness.”
Charles Dickens:A Christmas Carol
When we are marking a special occasion, whether that is a birthday, a wedding, or a funeral wake, Christmas or other religious holiday, there are traditions in terms of the kinds of food we have that connect us to each other and bring a reassuring feeling of rapport and kinship.
A Boyar Wedding Feast. Konstantin Makovsky. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
The Funeral Meal. Léon Fréderic. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
Barbecue. Archibald Motley. 1934.Wikimedia Commons.
The setting can be highly significant to the enjoyment of eating and sharing our food. The pleasurable experience of eating outside, perhaps in a French courtyard, or a beautiful garden, is further enhanced by the visual beauty and the atmosphere around us.
Henri Le Sidaner – The Stone Table Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
Research into the area of how eating together facilitates social bonds has shown that this can also contribute to ‘individual health and welfare.’(Dunbar)
Peder Severin Krøyer: Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Wikimedia Commons.
“Cooking is a holistic process of planning, preparing, dining and sharing food. I place food at the center of our humanity, as it nourishes not only our physical bodies but also our emotional and spiritual lives. Food is truly a cultural phenomenon that informs our traditions and our relationship with the earth. I genuinely believe that food connects us all.”
© Linda Berman.
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