Soul Food: Lunching with Friends

Last week I had lunch with a couple of friends, in person! Afterwards, I kept marveling at how extraordinary this ordinary event felt. We’ve basically been in lockdown since November 2020. I hadn’t seen these friends, or really anybody, in person since last September. Things that had been easy pre-pandemic, such as lunching with a friend, now felt new and energizing in a different way.

Coincidentally, later that evening I watched, “Fuel,” the third episode of a Netflix series call Human: The World Within. As you might imagine, fuel refers to the food we eat. However, my lunch experience was about everything but the food. It was about the company and the human interaction, though we were socially distanced and outside. Talking freely in real time without video/audio delays, poor image resolution, and the worry of being recorded felt novel.

The episode felt like a very one-sided dimension of food. It seemed to miss many aspects of our life it nourishes. I can recall many delightful events centered around food. Yet, I almost never remember the “fuel.” Instead, what I remember are the laughs, the discussions, and the connection I felt to others. The food may have been the reason for getting together, it may have even been the central event. But more often than not, it’s not what I remember later.

My one-hour lunch date with friends was short, but engaging. It brought new meaning to the term “soul food.” Food is so much more than just fuel for our bodies. It’s memories and comfort. It’s about connections, joy, and discovery. I love the sensation of eating something hot and spicy when I have a cold, even better if someone else makes it. Packing chocolate and cookies into the lunch bag for a day at an ocean beach is mandatory for me. The salty air intensifies the sweetness of the treats and ultimately my beach experience.

Diminishing the value of food to simply “fuel” misses the whole point of eating.

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