The image of the Knights of The Round Table is strongly ingrained in European and American cultures. After all, we are of European descent. But there is another reason why this image is so powerful.
Imagine changing the phrase to say, “The Knights of the Rectangular Table.” This does not exactly have a good ring to it. In fact, you might instantly picture knights stumbling around, snagging tunic, cape and sword on the corners of said table on their way to their seats.
The circle offers a place of gathering where, though there may be a leader present, everyone feels they are on equal footing. This is something we sense instinctively, and it works. It is why conference room tables are more often rectangular than round. The corporate world likes proper distinction between leaders and minions. Thankfully, this is changing.
Rest assured, this is not a discussion about the corporate world or about governance. Quite the opposite. It is a discussion about the significance of shared meals, for a meal eaten in good company completely transforms ones sense of space and place. A shared meal, simply, turns any table into a round table.
We could (and probably will) write many articles about the emotional and psychological and social impact of a shared meal and on eating alone. You can be rich and feel more satisfied by the experience of a savory bite and good conversation than by your wealth. Likewise, in times of financial hardships, good food, especially when shared with a kind friend, provides a real sense of abundance. There is not one thing, not one technological gadget, that provides this sort of experience.
Food nourishes just by virtue of being placed on the table, and being yours to take. The moment a dish is placed before us, it is as though someone with authority had given permission to be at ease. The mind shifts in that instant. In fact, the shift begins before this; it occurs the moment we relax in conversation with those who happen to be sharing the meal. Perhaps we relax into a meal more than we relax into a cozy bed. Food has the ability to distract the mind from unresolved thoughts. We don’t decide to give in to a meal, we just do. We don’t just fall asleep. As a matter of fact, how often do we cure insomnia with a trip to the refrigerator?
This, then, is certainly the first of many more musings on this Blog. All of them will not be about food specifically. We’ll go with the inspiration of the moment. Speaking of inspiration, in the next article we will speak about an author who was inspired by soups and ski resort towns.
~ Eat Well!