The following piece has been written by La Porchetta’s CEO, Sara Pantaleo.
My family grew up with not much money, but we always ate together, and this togetherness is something I cherish. It doesn’t take much money to enjoy a great meal. When I think about all the meals I’ve loved, I don’t just think about the food. I think about the people I’ve shared it with.
In the Italian tradition, food plays an important part in everyday life, and meals are not just for celebrations, but also for everyday connection — talking, sharing and working through personal and family issues.
Family is not simply biological relatives. At La Porchetta, we’ve seen the family change over the years. We see loving families in all their forms: adoptive parents, close friends, stepparents, surrogates and same-sex couples. As long as there is intimate conversation, love and togetherness, there is family.
It’s well known that human intimacy is vital for health and happiness. Science shows us that strong social connection is even more essential for wellbeing and longevity as a good diet, exercise and sleep. And recent data from nearly three-quarters of the world’s countries shows us that students who don’t regularly eat with their families are more likely to be truant at school. These studies also show that children who eat with families report better relationships with their parents.
As adults, we don’t need studies to understand the wellbeing benefits of catching up and eating with people we love. But I think in a digital age, mealtime connection is more important than ever. We’re lucky to live at a time where we have the convenience of speaking with people online, but I believe you can’t get a real sense of family connection from online relationships (no matter how many likes or followers you have).
A sense of family is there when you have face-to-face sharing and togetherness — a place to have conversations and celebrate; to work through our problems and struggles; and, of course, to enjoy good food together. The dinner table is a great place to enjoy our family time.