What images does the word “feast” invoke? Celebration? Merry-making? Boisterous fun with the boys? Food is an essential component of celebrations around the world. Partaking in a meal with your loved ones is one of the most intimate acts you can do publicly.
It is also a profoundly social urge. Food is almost always shared; people eat together; mealtimes are events when the whole family or settlement or village comes together. Food is also an occasion for sharing, for distributing and giving, for the expression of altruism, whether from parents to children, children to in-laws, or anyone to visitors and strangers. Food is the most important thing a mother gives a child; it is the substance of her own body, and in most parts of the world mother’s milk is still the only safe food for infants. Thus food becomes not just a symbol of, but the reality of, love and security.
Sharing a meal brings people together, allowing connections to be made or renewed, stories to be exchanged and to participate in one another lives for a little while. Sadly, making time to actually sit down at a table together is a luxury most of us are unable to afford with our hectic lives. And perhaps we have grown to no longer appreciate the importance of meal times.
More often than not, we sit down for a meal and then disconnect. Everyone twiddling on their smart phones, making conversation with eyes down instead of looking at each other. Spending more effort to take nice photos of the food rather than engaging with your fellow diners.
I guess the whole point of this textual diarrhea is that we need to learn how to share meals again, how to feast. To bring back joy and meaning to our meals.