"It's time to eat!" Few words bring joy to humans like that phrase.
Why is food so central to the building of human relationships? It’s interesting that shows that depicted friendships on television revolved around meals or drinks. I can think of two – Friends (which used the coffee shop Central Perk as a place they hung out) and Cheers (which was set in a bar…”where everybody knows your name”). I know sharing these shows my age! I am also not advocating the consumption of alcohol…just pointing out a fact from culture.
What we realize from watching these shows and from our own experience is that we build relationships around meals and drinks. Eating and drinking together causes us to get to know one another deeper, open up ourselves more and create community that we otherwise would not have had.
Why does the simple act of sharing meals together create community? Here are a couple reasons I can think of:
It causes us to slow down
Life moves quickly and increasingly we are being forced or encouraged to speed up. Every new device or innovation is designed with the intention of making life easier…but really all it does for us is make life move faster. We multitask, attach ourselves to our devices, take on more things than we should and on and on we go. Two things that get squeezed out are relationships and time to eat meals. So we eat in our cars while driving off from the fast food restaurant we ordered it from. We grab and go on our way out the door. We move quickly.
Building relationships demands time. You can’t build friendships on the go. Depth of relationships necessitates that we slow down and listen and share and learn. Eating meals together forces us to slow down. It causes us to sit down, and helps us to engage. And it is healthy for us personally that we do. They even tell us that the simple practice of eating meals together as families helps children to do better in school and develop character.
So eating together forces us to slow down. And by so doing it helps to allow us to get to know one another and be known.
Allows us to share something simple before going deeper
When many of us think about building relationships, we get uncomfortable. Because we don’t want to reveal too much of ourselves too soon. We don’t want to be forced to open up by force. Sharing a meal with someone whether in a restaurant or even more in a home helps us to share something simple about ourselves.
They say you are what you eat. Well that applies here. The food I choose says something about me. It is a great conversation starter. Without much force or coercion my choices in food share with my table mates a bit of who I am.
But take this further to a meal in my home. To share meals together in our homes, causes us to open up both our space and our tastes. We share where we live and we share our taste in food. Once you have begun doing that, it opens things up for deeper sharing.
Food creates friends. And friendship doesn’t have to be forced. Simply share meals with people, in homes or in restaurants, and watch your relationship deepen. Don’t just read this…try it. Stop saying I want to get to know that person or those people or that family better. Invite them to share a meal…and watch food create friendships.