I recently had the amazing opportunity to go to the new National Museum of African American History and Culture with my son’s 3rd and 4th grade class. It was a powerful experience in many ways and brought many emotions to the surface for all of us—sadness, pain, anger, joy, and hope. After touring the museum, the whole group met in the cafeteria for lunch and as we sat there discussing what we had seen and the many emotions and thoughts it had brought up for us, I looked up and saw this quote:
I’m concerned that Americans are losing that place of meeting. There are very few times we can be more intimate as to share food together.
As I sat there, sharing a meal with these children and the other chaperones, I was struck by the fact that, in that little moment, we were experiencing the power of Maya Angelou’s words: we were sharing in the intimacy and the weight of the experience we had just had, while we ate together.
As I sat there with my son, his classmates, and the other chaperones, I was struck by the importance of food as a vehicle to bring us together in good times and in bad. There is a reason that there is always food at big celebrations such as weddings and birthday parties and also at times of sadness, such as funerals or wakes: it is because we are building community. We are connecting with one another. We are sharing in the joy and the sorrow as we share in the food. But what seems to be increasingly lost is this same connection in day-to-day life. It’s important for us to be making these connections on a daily basis with people we love, with our families and friends, so that we don’t feel so isolated and alone.
That is why cooking is so important. Not fancy cooking, not perfect cooking, but simple cooking that gets food on the table for you to share with one another while you talk about your days, your ups and downs, your fears and anxieties, your joys and successes. I know we all have busy lives and adding cooking and a sit-down meal to the mix might feel like a lot, but maybe we need to start thinking about it in terms of an act of self-care, as it will strengthen our feelings of community, our bonds, and our sense of hope.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you find that meals that are shared bring you more than just a full belly? Please share in the comments section below. And, if you’re not already a member of The Scramble and feeling like you’re at a loss for what to make for these important meals, don’t let that get in the way. Join The Scramble’s weekly menu planning service to alleviate the stress that can come with wondering what to prepare for dinner. You’ll be happy you did.