I’ve been working on building up a bibliography for this class. I hope by the time the course has taken shape I will have a bibliography that, may not be comprehensive, but will provide anyone interested in Common Eating, with a groaning board of literary choices. I’ve been doing this largely online, because the access to books is much greater than on bookstore and library shelves. Some of the books in the bibliography can be found under my Books I Reccomend.
I’ve also visited bookstores, new and used. I’ve gone to libraries, and the one thing I’ve discovered is that there isn’t a lot on eating as a social activity out there. Now let me clarify, there are books available on how to host dinner parties and holiday celebrations. When it comes to books examining the meanings of why we eat. Particularly why we gather together to eat there seems to very little readily accessible.
It has been said that the two best-selling types of books are cookbooks and diet books. We are obsessed with the types of foods we put in our bodies and with how we prepare these foods. Cook it in a regular oven, a convection oven or a microwave oven. Eat it grilled, boiled, broiled fried, baked or raw. Make it meaty, meatless or a mixture of both. The combinations and permutations are seemingly endless. There are foods from every ethnic group the world has ever known and probably some from ethnic groups that are nothing more than a figment of their author’s imagination.
Then, once we’ve eaten ourselves beyond the point of satiation we can finally turn our attention to the diet books, which will tell us why everything we’ve been doing for the last several thousand years is all wrong. There are high-carb, low-carb, no-carb diets. Diets from doctors who we should trust. Diets from celebrities, who, if many of us were being honest, we trust more than the doctors with professional medical training.
While the recipe books may tell us the numbers that each meal serves, the general tenor of all these books is about me rather than we. Not that we need any help. As a single person I can tell you that sometimes,serves four, simply means that it takes one person just a little longer to polish the dish off. Perhaps, it is telling that we have a foodie subculture and not an “eatie” one. Often it all seems to be about the kinds and amounts of food we consume and not who it is that we consume the food with.
There are worthwhile books out there, but one has to be willing to hunt for them. One such book is Supper of the Lamb, by Robert Farrar Capon, a retired episcopal priest and food writer. A more recent book is Born Round: The Secret History of A Full-Time Eater, by noted restaurant critic, Frank Bruni. In Bruni’s story elements such as family history, family dinner and self-image play into the story of his relationship with food.
In this class, students will be encouraged to share their own stories about their relationships with food, and with eating together. Whether these be stories of family dinners, or dormitory meals, or lone meals in front of the TV, students will be given the opportunity to talk about how meals shared, or perhaps unshared have shaped them.
Along with this students will learn about trends and patterns in the way we eat. The focus here will not be so much on the amount of food we consume but more on the ways in which we consume them. The family dinner has certainly been on the decline for many years, does this mean we need to find new patterns of communal eating. What about the fall supper, the potluck. What differences have students noticed between Common Meals shared in restaurants versus Common Meals shared in a person’s home or living space.
It is from here, that we will move on to look at Common Meals in the Old and New Testaments of Christian Scripture.
Again, I welcome any and most comments(I don’t like the ones that might be featured in a Monty Python song). You can comment in the comment section below or send me a tweet @anglibubs.