So, where did gathering and socializing around meals begin? No other animal on the planet eats in the same manner as we do. They eat what is available and in season within their region of migration or existence.
“Learning to hunt was a decisive step in human evolution. Hunting necessitated communication, planning and the use of tools…” (Psouni, Janke, Garwicz. Impact of Carnivory on Human Development and Evolution Revealed by a New Unifying Model of Weaning in Mammals, 2012)
Several years ago, in an excavated site on Lake Kinneret in Israel, Palaeolithic (11,000 B.C.) huts were discovered. Near those huts were successive hearths where food was cooked and nearby was evidence of areas used to prepare fish, mammals, and fowl. Not only did the archeologists find spears and tools to kill land animals, but, they also found woven fibers and evidence of fishing nets and weights. (Jones, Feast, Why Humans Share Food, 2007)
During this time, our brains were growing and becoming more sophisticated to aid in our survival, our migration to new regions, and our abilities to secure food. Our language was also becoming more sophisticated through the necessity of storytelling. Not only would information about food be discussed, but “oral traditions would extend collective consciousness to a time-span of generations, crossing centuries…storytelling was stretching social consciousness over longer timescales…” (Jones, 2007). The stage was set for the evolution to our modern day dinner party.
Today, we organize and cultivate crops in large regions of the world. We export and import food and spices over thousands of miles. There is no real need to discuss where and how each item was obtained, however, within one meal, should you inspect the ingredients on your plate, you would find their origins far reaching and diverse.
Luckily you will not have to make your own tools or forage and hunt for the food for your dinner party. Everything you need will be conveniently supplied for you within a few miles of your home. And, the storytelling around your table will likely not revolve around stories handed down through your ancestors but of topics more appropriate to how we live today.
Dinner-beginners, I’m going to give you a present. You must celebrate the advancement of the human species and take advantage of the evolution of food technology. Purchase something pre-made and warm it up prior to your guests’ arrival. Go to your grocery store and pick up a couple of roasted chickens or purchase some brisket and sauce. If you feel adventurous and want to cook something, feel free. But, don’t make this difficult, we want success.
Time to invite your storytellers! Grab your guest list. If this is your first time to entertain, be honest in your invitation. Use a little humor: “For the first time in history, I am attempting to host a pot luck dinner at my home, and you are the lucky victims! This experiment will be conducted [Saturday, September 22 at 7PM]. Let me know if you can make it and if you have any dietary restrictions. I will give you a general idea of what to bring.” Copy and paste. I don’t mind.
Now, hit the send button before you chicken out. Then take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back for putting yourself out there and wait for the responses.
It may take your guests a little while to regain consciousness from the shock of being invited to your home. But, if you don’t hear from them in a few days, it’s totally fine to send one more inquiry. “Checking to see if you might make it to my dinner party. Really looking forward seeing you.” Don’t take it personally if someone can’t come, invite others or go with what you get.
When they do respond that they wouldn’t miss this for the world, be ready with suggestions on what they can contribute: appetizer, salad, side dishes, bread, dessert, and don’t forget the E.E.L. (Endorphin Elevating Liquids)!
Until next week, Ciao!