Existing is a fact, living is an art. And to live well, above all we need wisdom, according to the meaning of the Latin sapere “to know”, to have taste. Wisdom is having taste for beauty, it is knowing how to say yes to life, it is the art of knowing how to live a healthy relationship with all things, food and people.
The way of eating, cooking and enjoying food is a product of history, of the way men place themselves in the symbolic plot of their own culture. Taste refers to the sphere of perception of flavors, but goes beyond this sphere and becomes the possibility of expressing a preference towards objects and activities. It is no coincidence that the rare refinement that is good taste – having taste – refers precisely to this sense. From the art of discerning flavors, we move on to the art of recognizing a painting, appreciating a literary text or a valuable piece of art. We move on to the ability to discern beauty. Taste defines the pleasure of living. Depending on the culture, individuals develop gustatory sensitivities linked to specific culinary preferences.
In the last twenty years scientists and psychologists have dealt with the links between food, taste and knowing how to live; it has been seen that eating has a multiple meanings. Food is not just nourishment; food choices are influenced by many factors such as psychology, culture, habits and attitudes. The Mediterranean diet is not only a food program, but also emphasizes the values of hospitality, closeness, intercultural dialogue, sharing and conviviality. It is a lifestyle that places man at the center in his entirety.
The taste of food as sharing and conviviality
You can enjoy a good meal even when you eat it alone, but a central element of pleasure at the table is conviviality: sharing a meal between conversations. We humans love to share the table, a completely anomalous behavior compared to the rest of the animal world, and such as to favor interpersonal communication and language, promoting relational life, knowing how to live.
The term convivo means cum vivere – from the Latin to live together – and it is for this reason that the gesture of nourishment takes on the cultural and social aspect. Through the sharing of food, family members demonstrate their belonging to a group and sharing the community’s bonds.
In addition to intensifying social relationships and consolidating friendships, business relationships and even intellectual ties, sharing food and the pleasure of tasting together are also acts of interpersonal communication: they bring people together by allowing them to share impressions, desires, emotions, moments of happiness or pain.
Despite the popularity of fast food, based on the rapid and often solitary preparation and consumption of ready-to-eat foods, eaten standing up or at most in the car, we remain “homines conviviales”. Let’s not forget that gathered around a table we celebrate different events : birthdays, weddings, conferences, parties and holidays.
The joys of conversation with pleasant company enhance those of the table, perhaps even more than the quality of the food and its flavor.
The delicious taste of a dish and the emotions aroused on the palate by its appreciation are defined when we narrate them, transforming them into shared knowledge, discussing what we are eating, commenting on a dish, its aromas, its flavors and its textures and recognizing its individual ingredients.
The linguistic ability to evoke the pleasures of taste in an enticing way is a true art.
The beauty of the meal eaten at home, also dedicating time to setting up the table, choosing the ingredients and presentation, i.e. the pleasure of the act of eating while taking care of yourself and those around us, is the great resource of family relationships , which requires love and patience. In a nutshell it means Being Family!
This artcicle was published in Rekh magazine that is the place for independent, curious, smart minds who wish to disseminate their original thoughts.
Well said, Paola! Couldn’t agree more. Happy New Year to you and yours! Here’s hoping your 2023 is full of conviviality.
Thanks so much Frank. I also appreciate your comments and feedback.
All the best to you for 2023. Keep posting delicious recipes! Buon Anno,