Social dining. It’s a whole lot more than enjoying a meal together. Food has been used for centuries as a means to bring people together. Social dining dates back to ancient Greece when wonderfully prepared cuisine would be the drawing card for gathering together during festivals or commemorations. Any excuse to get together and eat, right?
Philosophically, social dining uses meals specifically as a means to connect others: eat to socialize. Meeting at someone’s place or a restaurant to enjoy a meal together is one of the easiest social things to do. The simple solution to seeing friends you haven’t seen in a long time or meeting up with family that is spread near and far is to organize a date and time to meet and eat, right? Much of our socializing is done using food as the basis of what brings us together.
My first introduction to social dining would have to be church pot luck dinners - the absolute best place to indulge in quality home cookin’ and find out the dirt on the neighbours. We lived in a tiny farm community where there was always something brewing — socially and foodily. Food was the excuse to get together, have a few laughs and keep up to date on everyone’s business! There’s nothing like taking a jellied salad to an event where you can gorge endlessly on homemade delectable main dishes, desserts and get the coles notes of who’s who in the neighbourhood. Still warms my heart. Potluck occasions seem to be few and far between these days, but definitely my epitome of social dining.
Community organizations often have events with food as the feature. Shameless plug here - Crestwicke Baptist is having their 2nd Annual Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction on Sunday, February 26th, 5:30 p.m. — 7:30 p.m. at the church in support of Operation Education — a fundraising effort with the goal of raising medical school tuition for Zambian youth through Kids Alive International. Admission by donation. Come on out - there’s food for a good cause and the opportunity to meet new people — what more could you want?
Even if you’ve never heard of the cause, there are times when the promise of a finely executed meal is enough enticement to get you there and support it. The smart organizations know this and flog it with all the creativity they can muster. Why? Because food is such a draw. It’s a perfect networking tool.
It’s a known fact in the marketing world, if you want to entice someone to attend an event — feed them! Non-profit organizations have perfected the feed trough in all aspects - from fundraisers to volunteer appreciation events. Schools, sports teams, community organizations have the ‘food-social dining’ thing down to a science. I can’t possibly count the number of times and/or hot dogs I cooked and served as our kids made their way through public school. Lunch time fundraisers using hot dog and pizza days as the means is a great way to introduce kids to social dining. They sit and enjoy a meal together. Even parents have the opportunity to volunteer; cook, eat and connect. What fun!
Food has the ability to bring people together. There is a real relationship between food and social interaction. I’m sure we can all conjure up memories of great dinner parties; fund raisers that have been all about the social; laughs over food; or simply enjoying the kitchen with family members.
For food-lovers like me who love face-to-face interaction, social dining is the best of all worlds. Eating while being social - with those you know and love; those you’ve just met and perhaps even those you don’t like so much can be an enjoyable experience. If you’re looking for a social dining opportunity - message a bunch of friends and plan your next potluck. Then - pass the salt and enjoy!
Nancy Revie is a Guelph author, motivational speaker, fitness instructor and entertainer. Visit Nancy at www.nancyrevie.com. Her column appears every other week.