I currently live in Asia House (118 Broad) with six other housemates this semester. During one of the weekends, our Resident Assistant (RA) hosted a big brunch that was sponsored by Colgate Residential Life. The seven of us all gathered together at 9 AM and started helping our RA with preparing the food. One was in charge of the bacon, another person was working on the scrambled eggs, and few other people were helping with the table set up. When we were short on something (such as milk), we would ask around and all the residents were more than willing to take out their milk and share among others.
It is interesting to see how food can act as a social cohesion or bond among a group of people with little commonality (other than living in Asia House). Before this event, the kitchen was quiet and spacious during weekends. However, because of the communal brunch, the kitchen was never so packed and lively before. The once isolated and fragmented group of people were gathered in a single space and forced(?) to interact with one another. In addition, it is also fascinating to see how this social bond was shown through the sharing of, for example, milk with each other. Because each one of us felt that we were part of this project called “the communal brunch in Asia House,” we were willing to share and sacrifice our food for others in this project.
In many ways, food has the capacity to create a space of social inanimateness. Imagine if residents in Asia House were meeting together at the same time but without the brunch. I would imagine a formal, stale and rigid atmosphere and I would think ‘oh, another meeting.’ But, with those steamy scrambled eggs and bacons, it turned from a ‘meeting’ to a lively, social gathering.