Posts tagged commensality
dinner and dialogue: a peek into my master's thesis

It is easy to romanticize the community-building power of the dinner table, but commensality, or the process of eating together, can also be used to maintain boundaries of difference. In my research, I sought to understand how a dinner church harnesses the positive power of commensality through the potentially divisive ritual of the Eucharist. I was particularly interested in the idea of comfort, and how feelings of comfort or discomfort affect church members involvement in and understanding of church.

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resurrection meals

Eating together is an intimate act.
Theologian and social psychologist Jean-Claude Sagne suggests that the meal develops close relationships because it promotes equality among those who otherwise might not share a similar social identity. Sociologist Georg Simmel offers that eating bonds people together in a physical and social sense because all humans share the need to eat and drink.

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food of friendship

“I don’t know where you’re from, but I know your middle name and how you fell in love,” reflected Daniel, a guest at the first monthly Chez Heureuse dinner party. Upon moving into our apartment, my roommates and I began hosting monthly, themed dinners in order to bring together each other’s friends and expand our own communities in the city. After our first meal – a New Year’s-themed affair centered on tales of resolutions we kept and resolutions we failed – the group lauded the success of the meal, forging friendships among men and women who otherwise would never have met.

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the memorable meal

A few days ago, I went out to dinner with two friends that were in town for the weekend. As we sat enjoying a meal of assorted small plates amidst the colorful décor of Sarma, a Middle Eastern restaurant in Somerville, we discussed the ability of a food space to encourage a certain type of conversation within its walls. My roommates and I often discuss the use of space within our own home as we seek to bring others in, but it was interesting to broaden the conversation to the restaurant space as well.

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