It's the night before Thanksgiving in the US, and our home is filled with the smell of pumpkin pie in the oven. This has reminded me of food and its ability to bring people together.
I grew up in Louisiana and have come to appreciate the food even more since I've left. Why? Because it's so good? Well, sure – but that's not what I mean.
What I appreciate about the food in Louisiana was its role as a "glue" for both social and business bonding. When I think of people I hung out with, I often think of the meals we shared. Sometimes they were crawfish boils, sometimes family dinners, sometimes business lunches – but food was always a good excuse to get together.
Another important aspect of our food was the sharing. When someone had a death or illness in the family, their friends cooked for them and brought it over to the house. We often took turns cooking for each other, and each of us jumped at the chance to bring your "signature dish" to someone else's food fest. (Sometimes, there was a parallel between food and stories – just as my friend always brought her own special fruit salad every time we had a potluck, she always told pretty much the same stories).
We marked the seasons with food, too. Gumbo when it was cold, King cake from Epiphany through Mardi Gras day, fish on Fridays during Lent, crawfish boils in the spring and early summer, boudin in the fall, pecan pie at Thanksgiving, duck in the winter, etc. And I'm just scratching the surface with this list!
Having a reason to connect makes it more fun to do so, and more likely that you'll actually do it. I appreciate the role food has played in my life in helping me stay connected to others. Sure the food's good, but it isn't really about the food – it's about the connections.