Food – one of life’s great connectors

Sobremesa – (n) the time spent around the table after lunch or dinner, talking to the people you shared the meal with; time to digest and savor both food and friendship.

There is something profoundly satisfying about sharing a meal with other people. Eating together is one of the oldest and most fundamental unifying human experiences. It can simultaneously fulfill physical, emotional, and relational needs.

It will help establish and deepen friendships

If I share my food with you it’s either because I love you a lot, or because it fell on the floor and I don’t want it. (That’s a joke.) Truly, I can’t think of another setting that’s better for solidifying friendships than gathering to eat. It slows down our pace, narrows our space, focuses our attention, and creates a relaxing ambience—all of which are beneficial for deepening friendships.

It’s good for business

Since humans first walked the earth, we’ve known that sharing a meal can be good for business. For instance, a recent study revealed that it doesn’t take much to get a doctor to prescribe a brandname medication—just a free meal. The study found that U.S. doctors who received a single free meal from a drug company were more likely to prescribe the drug than doctors who received no such meals. Meals paid for by drug companies cost less than $20 on average [Even Cheap Meals Influence Doctors’ Drug Prescriptions, Study Suggests, Peter Loftus, WSJ, June 20, 2016].

I’ve never understood why some organizations are so stingy with the amount of funds allocated for business meals. I once worked with a group of six senior executives at a $75 million dollar a year business. They were frustrated that the CEO, in order to save money, eliminated their budget for business meals, which saved the company a whopping $24k a year. I suspect that poor decision cost the company ten times that much in lost revenue.

It engenders good will

Treat someone to a $15 lunch and they’ll be your friend forever. Well, that’s an exaggeration; but it is true that even a small amount of money and time will generate a lot of relational capital.

A weekly family meal can become a wonderful family tradition

I enjoy watching the sitcom, Bluebloods (on CBS). It follows the lives of three generations of New York City police officers. In every episode, there’s a scene showing their weekly, Sunday afternoon family meal in which they gather around the dinner table to talk, argue, laugh, and pass the potatoes. Every family would benefit from this tradition. [Note to my family: Are you reading this post?]

I double-dog-dare you: initiate and host meals and enjoy the sobremesa.

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10 Replies to “Food – one of life’s great connectors”

  1. You are right on in every way — especially in today’s fast paced society. I remember with great appreciation my years of growing up in the 50’s when every night (with rare exceptions) my family had “sobremesa.” Great memories!

    1. Thanks, Lois, for taking the time to write. Sharing meals produces such good memories. Mary and I travel a lot; most of the fond memories of our travels center around meals we shared together and with others.

  2. You also might like to add a tradition of a prayer or sing the blessing or as one family did, read a chapter of scripture at the end. This is a great post. Thank you.

  3. Don,
    I couldn’t agree more about business meals. I spent most of my working career as a Salesman in the dental field. I took many dentist to lunch or dinner and as you said positive decisions workmade based on the fact that we ate together and I paid for it. In fact after many many years some of the dentist started to take me to lunch and dinners to ask for advice and then would purchase what I was selling.
    As a side note I enjoy watching Blue Bloods as well, especially in the Sunday dinner scene it reminds me of when I was a child and having family dinners after church on Sunday at our home.
    Thanks for the Memories!

    1. Ed, thanks for affirming words. In my family of origin we didn’t have a weekly family meal; I can only imagine the memories that having one would produce. Thanks for being my friend.

  4. Great reminder of the importance of the family meal. My challenge when my boys lived under my roof was to get them to respond to my questions with more than one word answers. For example, “How was school today”? “Fine.” “What did you learn”? “Nothing.” “Why I am spending so much money for private schooling when you are learning nothing”? “I dunno.”

    I finally mastered the art of asking questions that required narrative answers.

    By the way, your giftedness as a leader was made evident by the SCC spring concert last Sunday. To be able to get a volunteer choir to produce such a program of excellence is a testimony to your leadership. Thank you for your positive, encouraging, and challenging leadership. Being a member of your choir is a new blessing for me.

    1. Bill, thanks for taking the time to write. You’re right about the importance of asking open-ended questions; they lead to more dialogue. We had a great service of worship last Sunday. I’m so glad you’re a part of our music ministry. Great music sung to a great God.

  5. I so appreciate this weeks refection. Thank you. Sobremesa is an extremely important aspect of the Spanish culture and one that I’m coming to really love. Here, it often lasts for hours and is as essential in hospitality as the meal. Since moving to Spain and understanding more about the value of sobremesa, we’ve found some of our richest ministry experiences have happened in those times. I’m learning to slow down and focus on sharing, talking, laughing and building relationships. I’m thankful for this cultural value and how it’s changing me.

    1. April, it’s so good to hear from you. I hope you and your family are doing well in your sojourn in Spain. And, thanks for affirming words about Sobremesa. In America, we need to learn how to slow down and spend quality time with others. Don

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