Friends and Food

I’ve broached this topic before, but it is worth repeating.

For all of the talk surrounding local food movements, or the kitchen chops of the chef du jour; For all of the e-mails sent to us by marketing firms extolling the virtue of yogurt or the commercials that praise the glory of cheese; a fair majority of the food media seems to forget the critical ingredient involved in every food consumed. The food is secondary to your relationship to yourself and the friends you break bread with.

If you hate yourself, the wine will taste less sweet, and eating alone becomes something to avoid rather than something to relish. Sharing a moment with friends over food or drink makes those items taste that much better. Remove positive relationships from the equation, and suddenly dinner becomes dull, and drinking becomes more of an exercise of avoidance than one of celebration.

This has been made extra-clear to me of late, as Tara and I go through two very stressful situations. The first is a move from Seattle to Redmond*. The second is a legal issue that I can’t yet go into full detail here. The results of these issues have brought forth the following:

  • Friends offering to help us move – with pizza as payment.
  • Friends offering to go out to eat with us in our new city, for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
  • Nights out at a local pub to let off some steam.
  • Friends offering us dinners out to give us a medium to talk about our stresses.
  • Friends listening to me vent about our current situation over coffee.

And, not to paint my world as completely bleak, there are the good times we are celebrating. We’ve given out gifts of spirits of late in order to celebrate successes, and plans to Europe are being made with trips to distilleries, restaurants, pubs, bistros, and beer halls all on the agenda, with the intent of us sharing in the experiences of these places.

I have been thinking a lot about food and friends of late. For everyone trying to sell me on something, be it a healthy life style or a bottle of tequila, through television commercials or the self-important ramblings of a food blogger, the question that I wish to have answered by these folks is simply this – would either me or my loved ones care?

You would be surprised on just how much white noise this question filters out.

Yes, it’s interesting to know the good from the mediocre. But all of the events that I’ve mentioned above would have the same value to them, regardless of the food or drink. Sure if the wine or beer was bad, we would bitch about it, or if the pizza was amazing we would be sure to order from them again. But the food items involved here don’t add or subtract from the quality of the relationships. They are little more than window dressing.

As I go through my RSS feeds of a few of my favorite food blogs (and some that I love to hate), it amazes me how often this aspect of our relationship to food and friends is glossed over, if mentioned at all. Go to eater.com or slashfood and review a sampling of posts, and apply the question I have mentioned above to them. I’d love to hear the answers you come up with.