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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Opinion: Don’t eat alone

We underestimate the value of a communal meal
Sitting around the kitchen table with people to share a meal makes a bigger impact in your life than you realize. Opinion writer Nihan Iscan says that there is a strong connection between food, memories and contentment. (Photo courtesy of Jill Wellington/Pixabay)

Sitting in my grandparents’ kitchen amidst all of my relatives as they prepare one of our favorite traditional Turkish meals is one of life’s simplest pleasures. Cousins bickering, grandparents patiently explaining the recipes to the grandkids and myself, just soaking it all in. It’s a chaotic scene but heart-warming nonetheless.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from my family, it’s that hunger brings us all to the kitchen, but it’s the memories that make us stick around. 

When I drink from a store-made ayran, it takes me back to my memories with my friends in the dining hall of my middle school in Istanbul. When I eat sekerpare, a Turkish dessert my grandma used to make, it reminds me of my summers in Izmit. 

What connects these memories together isn’t solely the amazing food. It’s that the act of eating with loved ones is a shared experience, an opportunity to grow closer to one another. There’s a good reason why it’s been said that “the family that eats together stays together.”  

Despite the clear advantages of shared meals, we college students seem to never prioritize this simple but beneficial activity. We are busy with multiple responsibilities at once, often neglecting the importance of good food and reducing it to just another chore on our to-do list. Sometimes, we end up eating chips and energy drinks for lunch, or a granola bar and coffee for dinner. 

However, you can increase the satisfaction you get from your meals. Start by removing the distractions around you that take your attention away from enjoying your food. Putting down your phone while you are eating can be a big step in this process. Eating without hurry will reflect positively in other fields of your life. In your career, relationships, and other duties, the ability to stay in the present moment will allow you to achieve a higher level of success and contentment.

If you can, try to make it a habit to eat together with friends and family. Sharing the eating experience with loved ones on a consistent basis will improve your relationship with them and add to your contentment. As college students, we can use our free time to invite friends over for a cooking spree. We can prepare food and take it to each other’s houses for a potluck. Gathering around a table and sharing food will strengthen your relationships and add meaning and fulfillment to your college experience.

When you look back at your college years, you want to have good food as a part of the memories you made. Reminiscing with your college friends years later and appreciating the small moments when you made a good meal, went for a picnic or shared food with each other will be immensely valuable. 

Appreciation of food is not only shared between individuals but is also a bridge between cultures. It is a common ground for diverse societies to celebrate significant occasions accompanied by food. On Thanksgiving, Eid, Timkat, Christmas, Newroz, Hanukkah and many other special holidays, different communities gather around the kitchen table and celebrate their shared beliefs. 

Food is an equalizer because it allows you to share a unique experience with friends and family. It is a method in which we can connect to our close circle as well as people with completely different backgrounds. Eating is a human experience, universal and adds to our happiness more than we realize. 

So, the next time you are planning on what to cook for dinner, consider inviting your loved ones over. You won’t regret it. 

Nihan Iscan is a senior international studies major and an opinion writer for The Battalion.

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