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Food for thought

Friday, February 17, 2012 - 01:00

One of the most powerful ways to bond with another human being socially, emotionally and psychologically is the sharing of food. As a custom, it goes back to the beginning of time when we first ventured forth out of the cave and sought or welcomed — perhaps even tolerated — the company of others.

As a species, it is one of the identifying characteristics of human social organization. And, although there are other primates that share critically valuable resources, humans are the only species that appear to have developed social-sharing systems, customs and rituals revolving around the sharing of food.

Its importance is deeply rooted in our genetic memory, tied to a time when food was an incredibly scarce and valuable resource: to a time when giving away a portion of that resource took far more courage and confidence than it does today.

When we sit down to break bread with one another, the feelings and range of emotional response generally associated with both giving and receiving is buried deep within our collective consciousness. The gratitude and appreciation one feels as a guest is generally the result of the warmth and generosity one exhibits as a host — as much a matter of sociology as it is psychology.

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