The Ethical Hedonist: Breaking Bread

Fun facts:

1) Valentine’s Day was originally known as “The Feast of St. Valentine.”

2) Valentine’s Day was not associated with romantic love until Chaucer got his grubby paws on it at some point in the late fourteenth century.

So, in the spirit of reclaiming the day, I’m here to discuss the importance of eating with all of your loved ones. Sharing a meal with someone is an oddly intimate thing to do. Ideally, it happens with people who will still think you’re cute when you have spinach in your teeth and won’t mind the smell of garlic on your breath — and for that reason, first dates over lunch or dinner have always struck me as profoundly strange.

Growing up, most of us shared meals with our friends at lunch and our family at dinner. Many of us ate with the occasional significant other in high school, perhaps with roommates our first year at Davis. And then what? Who have you taken most of your meals with since your sophomore or junior year here? Your cat? Your O’Chem book? An episode of Community?

Dinner is served in my house at 7 p.m. every weekday night to a table surrounded by about 12 mismatched chairs and at least as many people. I love my roommates enough to willingly live with all 14 of them in a house with only two showers (that’s a joke actually, hippies don’t take showers) and yet I find myself abandoning dinner in favor of paper writing and secluded study sessions with increasing frequency.

I might be tempted to write this off as a tragic consequence of the quarter system, whose midterms start in week three of every term, but this also assumes that the 60 minutes between 7 and 8 p.m. are some of my most productive. This has never been the case, and it certainly isn’t this quarter with most of my classes ending around 6 or 7 p.m. I get home, I put down my bag and I check my Facebook, connecting with my cyber-family instead of my co-op one.

Certainly, the internet is a powerful tool for staying in touch with your loved ones, but it becomes counterintuitive when more time is spent surfing than actually seeing any of them. I’d like to challenge you to spend more time with real people this month. Build connections with people who will kindly point out the spinach stuck in your teeth and sit next to you despite your garlic breath.

HILLARY KNOUSE drinks locally sourced, raw milk with her S’mores Pop-Tarts, every morning. Email your questions, concerns and dinner date offers to hkknouse@ucdavis.edu.

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