Do You Eat with Your Friends, Family, or Neighbors?

All throughout my youth, my family ate meals together around our kitchen table. No TV, no cell phones, just the 5 of us trying our best to communicate. The same thing happens at a larger scale during our semi-annual family reunions, when everyone takes turns contributing to meals for 30-40 people.

In college, I almost always ate dinner with friends. For a semester my senior year, several of us took turns cooking on a different night each week so we could enjoy a homemade meal while minimizing the prep time per person.

Over the last 6 months or so, I’ve enjoyed a number of Friday-night meals with a group of friends. I’ve also participated in a semi-regular campaign/legacy game night, during which we take turns bringing or preparing meals.

These traditions of breaking bread with friends and family came to mind when I watched a recent TED talk about cohousing. Grace Kim talks about the “secret sauce” behind the strong community within her apartment building: a large, shared kitchen and dining area. It’s there that the 28 inhabitants of the building share 3 meals a week.

Kim talks about how the conversations that happen over a meal radiate outwards to form that greater sense of community. She doesn’t go into too many details, but she doesn’t have to: I’ve seen firsthand how easy it is to relax and let your guard down when you eat with someone. I can see how that would make a huge difference in getting to know the people who live around you and looking out for them.

It made me wonder if i should try to eat together with the people in my building from time to time. I barely know any of them, and for the few I know, I probably know more about their dogs!

How often do you eat together with other people? Have you ever shared a meal with your neighbors?


8 Responses to “Do You Eat with Your Friends, Family, or Neighbors?”

  1. Kevin Delp says:

    Tuesday nights we always get together and share a meal together and then play games with about 3 or 4 friends. Right now we are working through Pandemic Legacy: Season 1. On Saturdays Melissa and I invite two friends over and we hang out most of the afternoon into the evening playing board games (sometimes Mario Kart breaks out on the Wii), cooking a meal together, and having fun! Mondays (most of Tantrum House) and Wednesday evenings usually we go to someone’s home, but it’s just snacks and board gaming – no meals. Sunday nights we usually share a meal with a few people from our local church at our home (about 15-20 people).

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      That’s awesome, Kevin! I like the varied shapes and sizes of those communities and the different reasons for convening.

  2. Charles Dionne says:

    The cohousing concept is a very interesting one, I feel this is something that I really would have enjoyed in my younger, single years. Now that I’m married and have a young daughter my wife and I try to sit down at the table every night and share a meal with each other and actually talk to each other about our day or anything that may be on our minds. Both my wife and I grew up having dinner with our family and it is something we remember fondly. Perhaps it is just me, but I feel like it is becoming too uncommon for families to do this together on a daily basis.

    For something a bit more unusual, my wife’s entire family (which happens to all live in the greater New Orleans area) gets together every Tuesday and share a family-style meal. Grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and now cousins’ kids all converge to one house (location rotates between different hosts) every Tuesday and the total head count is usually around 20-25. It is really interesting to see how tight her family memebers are instead of “just” getting together on holidays like my family would do growing up. Definitely one of the most interesting family traditions my in-laws have!

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Charles: That’s great to hear about your family, and even more awesome that your wife’s entire family gets together every week! Do you join them for that big meal?

      • Charles Dionne says:

        It’s funny you should mention that Jamey. I am absolutely part of the “Tuesday Crew” now, but prior to us being engaged I would only be invited on very select occasions 🙂 We met in college (which was located outside of the New Orleans area) and then I spent 4 years in graduate school in Florida before coming “home” and getting married so it’s not like I was being left out by myself. There were actually few occasions for me to be able to attend anyway!

  3. Joe Pilkus says:

    Jamey,

    For a number of years, on New Year’s Eve, six families on our block, as we all moved-in within a week of each other, held a Progressive Dinner. We all met at the first house around 7:00 for drinks and an appetizer. Around 8-ish, off to the next house for salad and soup. At 9-ish, the third house would have the entree prepared by two of the couple’s. Finally, at least for the evening, we met at the next home for champagne and dessert and we would stay until around 1 am. The next day, around 9-9:30, off we would go to the last home for breakfast. Good times!

    Cheers,
    Joe

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Joe: That’s wonderful! I like the idea of progressive dinners, as it lets everyone take care of a manageable amount to cook instead of an entire meal.

  4. Bob Tosa says:

    Food is a great icebreaker no doubt and it brings people together. That being said, eating alone is one of my favorite things in a day! It is so peaceful and intimate. You only eat when you are hungry, you don’t even have to cook, you don’t have to talk about anything, think about anyone, the flavor is always just right, there is no danger of overeating, overcooking, overspending.
    This TED talk uhhh… Does anyone else think Kim needs to learn the difference between causation and correlation? – that last part of her talk about how co-housing can save lives….. c’mon Kim XD

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