An ode to food

How sitting down for a meal can help us cope during the pandemic

Graphic Joey Bruce

My inner Française could talk about food for hours.

Growing up in France, I have spent countless hours surrounded by family or friends long after our meal was over casually talking and debating. Family meals are this central moment of the day where everyone can share their day and talk about the latest news. Those sharing moments, whether with friends or relatives, are to be cherished. 

Food does not only entail eating; cooking is a significant part of the process. Seeing the meal coming together and putting all of our heart into the process is part of the experience. Being in the kitchen casually talking with some jazzy music in the background is a building block to enjoying your meal. 

On a weekend getaway in the Laurentians with some friends, I remember a long and meaningful conversation with one of my Quebecois friends. We compared each other’s relationship with food and the importance behind it. 

While he agreed on the fact that food is a great way to connect with people and learn about one’s culture, the whole dining experience is more out of necessity compared to how the French think of food in general. At this very moment, I realized how lucky I was to have this relationship with food and all the social and cultural ties associated with it. 

We live in a world where everything moves so fast, making on the go meals and take-out a convenient option. Even with my love for food, I too often replaced a meal by coffee or a granola bar during busy days.

Taking a moment in the day to stop all activities and eat a real meal is important. This means a moment without watching a TV show or catching up on readings, solely focusing on making and eating your meal.

Due to the pandemic, I came back to France but also back to those cherished sharing moments. Every night, dinner has been and still is the opportunity to raise our concerns and express our feelings about this uncertain period. As my sister is studying to be a nurse, she has been on the front lines twice since last Spring. Having her tell us what was happening in “real life” helped us understand the situation better. Those moments are both necessary and helpful to release the anxiety out of it.

Even though we have classes and jobs, why not try to take a real break for lunch or dinner? A break without being connected. Just enjoying your meal, understanding and taking the time to appreciate the different flavors, sensations or memories food can bring to you. 

This particular period is providing us the time to cook and to share a real meal with our roommates or family. Why not take the time to transform our relationship with food? As for most of us, we spend our day at home between work and leisure activities. Finding the time to eat a decent meal is one way of forcing us to take a break from all of our concerns.