|Afghan women share a meal of flatbread, goat, lamb, and fruit in the Women's Garden, a refuge for conversation and confidences outside the city of Bamian. The garden and surrounding park were created to promote leisure activities for women and families. For this group it includes the chance to bond over food.|
Credit: Lynsey Addario, Getty Images
Is eating more enjoyable when it is is done in the company of others? Is the telling and sharing of stories as important as the consumption of food. It has been said that food tastes better when in the company of friends, notably good friends. Trusting friends. Old friends. It might be so. A pictorial essay in National Geographic shows the joy of eating together; Victoria Pope writes:
Humans are social animals; and eating alone, which has now become the norm in many places and societies, goes against the idea of sociability. Sure, there are times, especially in business and when traveling for business, that one has to eat alone. But it is a sad affair; or at least I have always considered it as such when I ate alone in a foreign and strange city. Jean Baudrillard, the French philosopher said: "Sadder than destitution, sadder than a beggar is the man who eats alone in public. Nothing more contradicts the laws of man or beast, for animals always do each other the honor of sharing or disputing each other's food."Food is more than survival. With it we make friends, court lovers, and count our blessings. The sharing of food has always been part of the human story. From Qesem Cave near Tel Aviv comes evidence of ancient meals prepared at a 300,000-year-old hearth, the oldest ever found, where diners gathered to eat together. Retrieved from the ashes of Vesuvius: a circular loaf of bread with scoring marks, baked to be divided. “To break bread together,” a phrase as old as the Bible, captures the power of a meal to forge relationships, bury anger, provoke laughter. Children make mud pies, have tea parties, trade snacks to make friends, and mimic the rituals of adults. They celebrate with sweets from the time of their first birthday, and the association of food with love will continue throughout life—and in some belief systems, into the afterlife. Consider the cultures that leave delicacies graveside to let the departed know they are not forgotten. And even when times are tough, the urge to celebrate endures. In the Antarctic in 1902, during Robert Falcon Scott’s Discovery expedition, the men prepared a fancy meal for Midwinter Day, the shortest day and longest night of the year. Hefty provisions had been brought on board. Forty-five live sheep were slaughtered and hung from the rigging, frozen by the elements until it was time to feast. The cold, the darkness, and the isolation were forgotten for a while. “With such a dinner,” Scott wrote, “we agreed that life in the Antarctic Regions was worth living.”
For more images, go to [NatGeo].