Eating is an experience that sometimes we want to share. Whether we want to talk about how good this or that is, or to feel proud to have been the first in a group to try one dish or another, we like being social while we eat. We like to see other people react to the tastes and smells, because that way the experience of eating involves not just those two senses, but all of them. So what are some of the dishes that make eating social? We’ve compiled a short list of meals that bring out the humanity in the most important thing that keeps us going; eating.
The word literally means “to melt”, and for good reason. Fondue is a Swiss French dish that consists of a big central pot of melted cheese. What the diners must do is impale small pieces of bread on a long fondue fork to dip into the melt cheese mixture. Often the cheese contains a mix of cornstarch and white wine to spice up the taste. Dessert fondues exist and consist of a central pot of melted chocolate into which diners dip from an assortment of fruit. The communal aesthetic of the shared pot really makes breaking the ice quite easy.
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This French word means “to scrape” and refers to a kind of cheese. Raclette is another Swiss dish, so one would think that the Swiss sure do know how to socialize; or maybe they need that culinary push in order to do so! Either way, this second Swiss dish involves melted cheese as well, only this time the central appliance is an electric grill. Each individual diner places their raclette coupelle on the grill, which are the metal pans in which they melt their cheese to later eat with olives, roles of salami and ham. Do you also wonder if there might be a correlation between Switzerland’s high level of happiness and their social dining?
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The Spanish are widely known for their tradition of tapas. The word refers to the huge variety of finger-picking dishes that are commonly served in bars throughout Spain. There are dozens of tapas dishes that you can choose from, and it is common to replace a normal meal with a myriad of tapas and beer. Among the most popular tapas is chopitos fried baby squid, albondigas meatballs, croquetas, raxo pork, potato dices and wine chorizo. The list goes on. Tapas is a very social food because diners typically get a bunch of orders to share between them.
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Sushi is not necessarily a social dish, but it can be. Most sushi restaurants offer a platter of many varieties, which means that a group might pick off the same humongous central platter. Usually, the large variety dishes come with sashimi and sushi, and many varieties thereof. In Japan itself, some restaurants have dishes that rotate around the bar. Sitting beside a friend and discussing which dishes to snag off of the conveyor belt makes that particular experience very social.
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Many cultures have dishes that naturally make eating them a social event; those listed here are just a few. The American barbeque is a natural social event, each person going in turn to ask the griller for a cut of this or that. In Arabia and India, many meals are prepared as individual dishes set in the center of the table or floor for all to pick from. We love eating socially.