A SEAT AT THE TABLE
WORDS BY ANDREAS CARVER
The air of the bar was thick. People’s shoulders cowered as the results began to come in. Mouths open, eyes wide, breath heavy – The New York Times’ barometer was predicting a 95% chance of Donald Trump winning. We couldn’t take it anymore, watching a small stove fire turn into the devastation of a home burnt down. We left.
The next morning, I woke up and saw Donald Trump’s face bordering every news outlet. I was hoping that it had all been a dream and that America wasn’t taking strides back in time. I cried as the realization of the next four years came to settle. I cried for the immigrants of our country and for those of a muslim background. I cried for the women and for all of my POC family. I cried for my queer brothers and sisters and all gender nonconforming or trans people of America.
That day, I could feel New York City’s depression. The sky was dark and the subway fell silent as people’s shoulders hunched over their gloomy faces. That night, at the restaurant, diners were keeping the cocktails flowing. The disappointment of my surroundings was so sad and I knew I needed to do something.
“…eating together facilitates a sense of closeness and trust between adults.”
In a recent study conducted at the University of Chicago – A Recipe for Friendship: Similar Food – researchers looked at how eating together facilitates a sense of closeness and trust between adults. They found that when making important decisions like lending money or reaching an agreement on labor negotiations, people who ate similar foods together came to an agreement quicker and trusted each other more. “I think food is powerful because it is something that we put into our bodies and we need to trust it in order to do that,” Researcher Ayelet Fishbach says.
An analysis from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development looked at the importance of families who eat together. In their research, they found that children who eat with their parents succeed significantly better in school. They believe that there are two main reasons behind this: first is that when we eat outside of the home, we don’t really know what we are putting into our bodies. Especially when eating fast food, we can’t ensure that the food is good for us: how much fat, sugar, salt, etc is in your meal? And secondly, eating alone is alienating. Cooking for one another brings people together. It unifies family and community. It allows for us to debrief and forget about the stresses of the day. The study shows that when eating together, we can benefit mentally, with lower rates of depression and higher rates of self-esteem.
Two weeks after the election, I hosted a lunch. My living room, the size of a walk in closet, hosted eighteen people. We sat wherever we could and opened the floor up to discussion about anything and everything. We started at 2pm and the conversation roared into the midnight hour. In a time of Trump, Brexit, and the rise of nationalism, we must remember the power that food has on our morale. We must continue to cook for one another because when we cook together, we are stronger together.