Recipes for Relationships

April 2, 2019 · Print This Article

How many of you reading this like to cook?  I certainly do.  With several close friends from nearby Stowupland, a village in Suffolk, we all love cooking for others, and over the years this has led us to swap recipes.  Yet curiously, these recipes essentially ‘travel’ beyond the confines of Suffolk through relationships.  For example, Margaret’s recipe for salmon mousse has journeyed from Essex to Estonia, via my sister-in-law Triin to her twin sister as well as other Estonian friends throughout the UK.  Mavis’ recipe for luxury flapjacks has taken a trip round the world via my Brazilian sister-in-law Daniela, to her sister-in-law in Brazil who then moved to Italy!  Sharing recipes comes about from sharing food with others – and these recipes could not have travelled unless we all ate meals with each other!

Food is so much more than fuel and eating, though.  It encourages talking.  Eating with others has quantifiably positive outcomes psychologically, socially, biologically as well as physically!  It has emotional and multicultural ties; it can be pleasurable and sensual but crucially it deepens and strengthens relationships.  Most will have heard the maxim “families who eat together, stay together” but were you aware that teens have a lower risk of substance abuse[1], disordered eating patterns[2] and alcohol abuse when they eat meals with their family?  In fact, a Canadian research paper goes further by concluding “There is a positive relationship between frequent family meals and increased self-esteem and school success. All health care practitioners should educate families on the benefits of having regular meals together as a family.”[3]  Has your doctor prescribed this lately?  Mine hasn’t, but the ancient wisdom of the Hebrews tells us we should eat, drink and be merry.[4]

Another researcher, also Canadian, says “Eating together confirms the sense of belonging, being part of a community.[5]  As we eat with others, we become closer and we become connected to each other.

A study on ‘The Big Lunch’ – an annual initiative by the Eden Project, where people from a geographical community come together to eat a meal – suggests that sitting down to a meal with others helps them to form a bond, and not the other way around, i.e., you don’t have to be bonded first to eat together.  The study encourages us to eat with others, whether we know them or not.

How, when and where you eat with others – at home, out at a pub or restaurant, a pot-luck meal, BBQ, a picnic – is a whole new subject, but however you do it, it’s a healthy activity that benefits us. A recipe for relationship.

By Irene Tibbenham

[Irene is a church leader of our Norwich congregation, Grace Communion International.]





[4] Eccelesiastes 5:18 says “God has given us a short life on this earth.  I think that we should enjoy our lives.  We should eat and drink…. (Easy English)


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