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?