3 Joys of Shared Meals
One of the many changes of the pandemic has been missed opportunities for shared meals, particularly for those of us who live alone.
In the before times, I saw my extended family on most major holidays and some birthdays. I had potluck dinners with my book group, and I’d sometimes have other friends over for meals or treats (always a good way to share baked goods). And my friend Shelly and I tried to get together for lunch once a month or so.
But in March 2020, all that came to a screeching halt.
I don’t mind eating by myself, but it’s sometimes good to have a change of pace. That’s why it felt so nice to go to my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving. I hadn’t been there since Christmas 2019, and going back reminded me of some of the joys of sharing meals.
One of those joys is simply having face-to-face conversations with people. For me, that’s in pretty short supply these days.
This isn’t to say I never talk to people, because I do. But since my office hasn’t reopened, all my coworkers are remote now (some very remote, in India and Ukraine), so discussions with them happen on Zoom. Meetings for my church are also on Zoom, and I have some telephone calls with friends and family. I also write a lot of emails.
But none of that is quite the same as seeing people in person.
it’s also very different to sit around a table and have a meal with someone than it is to go for a walk with them. Talking over a meal can be more relaxed, with opportunities to linger over coffee or tea or dessert. It’s nice to be able to do that again.
New foods or recipes
Getting together for a meal is also a chance to try new foods or recipes. Because as great as it is to have some old favorites, something new can brighten the meal – as long as it came out well, of course.
My book group potlucks were particularly good for this because people had different dietary restrictions: Pescatarian, egg-free, gluten-free, dairy-free (or close to), etc. While these could be considered limiting factors, they helped us great creative and find new recipes and ways of doing things. And we always had fantastic meals – here’s a photo of one.
(Hopefully, we’ll have meals like this again, though this year it hasn’t worked out to do potlucks.)
And even if something doesn’t turn out quite right or isn’t a success, I think it’s still fun to give it a try.
And of course, sharing meals helps draw us closer together.
This is true in most situations, but it’s particularly notable with family and friends, especially if some of those people use food to express their love.
It is, after all, a very gratifying experience to spend time preparing a meal, or even a portion of it, and see that someone you care for enjoys what you made. You know that the care you put into the food is going to them, nurturing them – and they know it, too.
Admittedly, this can get carried too far, as with grandmothers or other relatives who urge you to eat more even when you’re not hungry. But most of the time, this is done in moderation and can bring joy all around the table.
What do you enjoy about shared meals?
How about you? Do you have anything particular that you enjoy about sharing meals? I’d love to hear about it!
And as we continue into the holiday season, with more chances to share meals, I hope you find even more things to enjoy.