I wrote in an earlier post, Love At The Dinner Table, about how food underlies many of our formative emotional experiences, ranging from family interactions to occasions with lovers. This was mostly based on my intuition and my life experiences as a child of foodies.
Now, research from Indiana University backs up this claim, as studies have demonstrated that “Family meal time has been shown to help kids do better in school, makes them less likely to use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, and results in less depression and lower levels of obesity.” The site linked above also gives tips for increasing face-to-face time at family meal events, ranging from scheduling ideas (if dinner doesn’t work, try brunch on the weekends) to interaction tips (such as asking for the highpoint of someone’s day and focusing on the positive rather than the negative).
However, I have to disagree with the writer’s assessment that nowadays “the family meal is practically folklore” since folklore doesn’t automatically mean falsehood or old relic. As a folklorist, I can tell you that folklore instead means the expressive culture or traditions of a given group… and further, I can urge you to incorporate family meals into your family’s folklore! It seems like using mealtimes as emotional bonding, relationship maintenance, and regular check-ins would also benefit non-nuclear family units such as childless couples, non-monogamous clusters, close-knits groups of friends, and so on. So try to schedule some time to enjoy a meal with your loved ones today!