I know people who meet friends every week at the same place for dinner. It’s a local destination that they admit doesn’t have the best food – it’s just ok. But that’s not what they go for. It doesn’t serve the kind of food that makes you feel good about eating healthy, it’s more the type that you keep eating in spite of the calories, the fat, and the lack of nutrients. Also, the ambiance is a bit cheesy. So why has it become a tradition? I have joined them on many occasions and I can tell you it isn’t just about the food. It’s about what happens there.
There’s More Than the Menu
Because they have been going to this restaurant for so long, the wait staff knows them well and they are treated like special guests. The food seems to come just a little bit faster, the drinks are a little bit stronger, and the interaction is more personal and pleasant without being invasive. Yet it’s more than that. It’s the simple act of joining together with friends to share a meal and doing it with regularity that creates a family – meal feeling. It’s the creation of a tradition – that’s the real draw.
Serving Up a Connection
Sharing food, whether it’s at a local destination or in a home, is an event that brings people closer together. Meeting for coffee or gathering in the park isn’t quite the same. Sitting at the table and eating together – the traditional breaking bread – is what makes it a bonding experience. Passing platters, sampling appetizers, and sharing food has an effect on everyone.
Are you the type of person who doesn’t want anyone touching your food, or asking for a taste? Are you a food protector? Perhaps you could use a lesson from your ancestors and learn to let go.
In the days of early man, food fresh from a kill had to be shared. This type of communal dining facilitated cooperation amongst the participants. People worked together to hunt and prepare the food and learned to take only their fair share, no more. There was the unspoken connection of having tasted the same thing and the comfort of feeling satiated like those around you.
It Makes Your Better, Really
There is also evidence that sharing a meal with others increases altruism. Yes, it actually makes you a kinder person. Eating family style prompts an awareness of your behavior. Will most people eat what’s been ordered? How much should you take? Passing a platter and monitoring your personal intake makes you more aware of others and their needs. It’s also fun.
Not many restaurants are family style, but many offer “sharable moments” that allow everyone to try a taste of what’s ordered. If you’re eating healthy, and you’re sharing, you’ve accomplished two of the most important things your mother likely taught you. You’re also doing yourself a favor emotionally.
Whether you gather in someone’s home or meet at a restaurant that’s a favorite local destination, enjoy the bonding of a shared meal. Pass the plates, share the food, and talk with each other. You’ll be glad you did.