I like food. Strike that – I love food. And no, it is not absurd to dedicate an entire column to food. Especially when we live in America. We are surrounded by food; everywhere you go, look, and everything you do, food will always persevere in making an appearance.

Now, I ask you this: When was the last time you sat down with someone and had a heartfelt conversation over a meal?

Living in a house composed of two cultures – Brazilian and American – which both are infatuated with food, I can say that food is a big deal to my family. As strange as it may sound, food holds much more worth than just nourishment to our bodies. Food is a door to relationships, cultures, and, as Aladdin would say, “a whole new world,” but frankly I do not care about what Aladdin has to say.

Like most normal children, I was never fond of my greens. I mean, why would I be? They were gross. But having my dad as my dad… he did not tolerate pickiness in our house. My dad’s philosophy when it came to food etiquette was based on what his mother always use to tell him and his nine siblings. And I quote, “Eat what is in front of you, because there might be a time when you are so hungry that you will even eat chicken shit.”

I hope to never eat chicken shit. Just the thought of it’s ghastly smell makes me want to vomit. Like anyone living in my household would do, I ate what was laid in front of me, and disposed of my picky habits. I won’t lie; there are still foods out there which I immensely dislike, but trust me, having an open mind toward food will do you more good than harm.

Growing up, and even till this day, my parents would fall on the old-fashioned style of parenting. Some of their biggest rules were: Dinners are to be spent at the table almost every night, and nothing is to be planned on Saturday mornings because those mornings are reserved for a family breakfast.

At times, these rules could seem to be a bit troublesome. But I must say that I am very grateful for the numerous discussions and arguments I have shared with my family around the table. In all, I believe that they have strengthened the relationships among my family members.

Also, I do try to converse with more than just my family around a table. Reaching out to friends or even acquaintances and inviting them to have a meal with you will introduce a side of them that you never knew before. Take my word for it.

Food is something not to be taken for granted – obviously – but the relationships we can gain from conversing around a table has great value, which we take for granted every day. Especially with how easy it is today to only surround yourself with people who validate your thoughts and ideas, there’s all the more reason to branch out and dip your toes in the waters of unfamiliarity.

I encourage you to step out of your bubble and take the chance of learning something new. We should not live on food alone, but also seek the wisdom and relationships from the people around us. So, why not do that around a table while eating a great meal?

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