How much eating with someone matters | 「誰かと一緒に食べる」ということの大切さ

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How much eating with someone matters

A German major supermarket EDEKA sent out a Christmas commercial recently, and I was struck by the story of the video.

The story was like this;
A young boy with a big family lives next door to a grumpy old man who lives alone. He seemed to like Christmas and was quietly decorating the wreath and tree. The boy and his family tried to be friendly to him, but he always refuses them stubbornly. One day, the old man received a notification by a phone call. He got shocked and hung up and hurried back to his room. Since then the old man did not came out. The boy went to see the old man’s room and saw a scrawl on the door: “Corona infected. Get away!”. On Christmas Day, the family is enjoying a dinner. The boy is worried about the old man. He comes up with an idea.
The old man is alone in his room. Suddenly the doorbell rang. He put on his mask and opened the door. And, there he found a table with lit candles and a Christmas dinner for one. A little further away, at the stairs, a boy was smiling at him.

Nowadays, a story like this can happen everywhere around the world.

Then I remembered the Christmas of three years ago. I was in Glasgow, Scotland, participating in a “community kitchen” where people cook for free for the local community.

Glasgow was a “crazy city”, in a good way. If you walk past the pubs here and there, drunk men were shouting. The locals say “Aye” instead of “Yes” and their pronunciation is so peculiar that I can hardly understand. When someone put a traffic cone on the head of a statue in front of the museum, everyone praised it as “funny” and it’s still there. It is said to be a workers’ town, and although not everyone is rich, the people in this city have warm hearts.
On the other hand, there are many people who live lonely and not healthy. In my flat there was a ninety year old woman who lived alone, being reluctant to cook, so eats tinned baked beans. I also heard that food banks, which give free foods to people on welfare or unemployed, the foods they get are often preservable canned foods or pasta, and few fresh vegetables.

The community to cook and eat together

A community kitchen is an interesting activity in this respect. The menu is rich in fruits and vegetables. They get the ingredients from supermarkets, when the vegetables and fruits are expired and about to be thrown away. And they provide a place where anyone can get a balanced meal for free.

I joined the community kitchen as I was new to the city and wanted to get to know more people. The activity took place every Monday in a day care centre for the elderly. The volunteers gather in the evening when the old people have gone home and the place is empty. The members were very diverse. A leader lady was a Latin woman. And there were a macho Scottish man, a student from England, a young Iranian and an Afghan father and daughter who were refugees. I felt strange to be among them, but as soon as we started cooking together, we just became a team. The kitchen was always cheerful and lively.

The day of the Christmas dinner arrived. At around 4pm we gathered.
“What are we going to cook?”, someone shouted. The leader passed around the recipes. The menu consisted of carrot soup, Christmas salad with kale and pomegranate, sautéed purple cabbage and carrots, stewed lentils and fruit yoghurt for dessert. We chopped up tons of fruit and vegetables, fried in a big pot, and prepared enough food for a hundred people.

7pm. The hungry people started to arrive. There were many elderly people, but also mothers with small children and groups of young students. They made a long queue in front of the kitchen and the tables were quickly filled. Strangers were seated next to each other, and at first they exchanged a few words, but soon they became chatty saying things like “the salad is delicious” or “have you got your dessert yet?“.

“The food today was exceptional!”
Everyone said and queued up in front of the kitchen once more. Someone started to play the piano, and then someone else played the guitar along it. A boy saw this and came up and asked “ Teach me the guitar!”

I was just sitting in a daze and watched as people of all ages and backgrounds sat around a Christmas meal together. Then someone said “You play the guitar too?” and led me into the circle of music. The man sitting in the middle showed us the chords progression and we played and sang the Scottish folk song ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’.

In this place, through the act of cooking and eating, it makes so easier to blend in to new people for a person like me who do not usually feel easy in a circle of strangers.
You don’t have to think so much, just come here, have a good meal and you become part of this community.
I think that’s why people look forward to coming here every week, because they feel comfortable in this relaxed, and loose connection.

In the next January, my visa in the UK expired and I left Glasgow. I haven’t seen them since that Christmas day. I have found the kitchen is closed now due to Corona Crisis.

I wonder, How many people would miss a place like this?
And how will they spend the holiday this year?

Thanks to

Woodlands Community


Back to English














そうしているうちに、誰かの声がして、「君もギターを弾くのかい?」と、音楽の輪に私を促した。真ん中に座る男性がコード進行を示して見せ、私たちはスコットランド民謡「Wild Mountain Thyme」を弾き、歌った。





Thanks to

Woodlands Community

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