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Five Ways to Talk About Food

By Angela Luo

This is how we talk about food:

Literally—We whine during fourth period that lunch is so far away, even when it is only next period. We comment on not having had breakfast that morning because we were running late (a.k.a. we were still trying to finish last night’s homework), and then we scrap together our friends’ leftover snacks for a makeshift breakfast. Today, 36% of teens skip breakfast.

Comically—We put food before anything else because it will always be there for us at 3 in the morning while our friends are sound asleep. And it makes us feel better about ourselves while simultaneously making us feel like bloated pigs. Sometimes we almost break our noses when we fail to throw grapes into each other’s mouths – or, more like, our friends fail to catch them.

Casually—We call each other up late Saturday night to make plans for Sunday brunch. We put a survey up on Facebook and groan internally when Burger King is once again chosen as the restaurant for this week. When we are bored at home, we steal an apple off the counter, but place it back when we realize we’re in no mood to be eating healthy. It’s Thanksgiving Break anyways, so we might as well get a head start on the weight-gaining.

Figuratively—In class, we read Thomas C. Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor, which tells us that the act of eating together is like a secular form of communion. Taking food into the body is such a personal and intimate act that we only do it with people we feel comfortable with. It’s a shared moment, one that builds trust and comradeship. It says, “Hey, I like you. You like me. Let’s share this experience together.” Then we move on to dissect a dinner scene in Wuthering Heights that goes terribly wrong.

Charitably—At our club meeting, we discuss spending our Thanksgiving Day packaging food for the poor at a local soup kitchen. We do it partially because we want to, and partially because we need hours, but we’ll never understand what it’s like to live without a constant food supply. We try to sympathize, and we try to help out, but until we’ve had first hand experience in living without food, we will never be able to empathize. The only thing we can do is to be grateful for the privilege that we do have.

So that day, I go home and make my family say grace before we have our dinner. They give me a weird look, for we have never been strictly religious, but inside, I hope that this is the start to a tradition of communion.

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