The idea of what a meal should be has evolved considerably over the years, especially in the city that never sleeps. As George Foster wrote in his 1849 work, New York in Slices, “Every thing is done differently in New York from anywhere else—but in eating the difference is more striking than in any other branch of human economy.” After all, the modern lunch, a quick and easy way to refuel during the working day, was invented to suit NYC’s on-the-go lifestyle. Walk down Broadway and you’re likely to see businessmen and women eating bagels while rushing to work, parents munching on sandwiches while pushing baby strollers, and students scarfing down dinner on the subway. Yes, eating is necessary, but so are resting, laughing, and spending time with our friends and family. All of these essential components of living healthfully can be hard to maintain amid the day-to-day hustle and bustle.
Here at Ace, we believe that what we put into our bodies is important, which is why most of our blog posts feature delicious food that is good for you, the people who make it, and where to find these options. We also believe that it can be hard to remember that eating right requires more than just making sure that our food has not been genetically modified, deep-fried, or sprayed with pesticides; it has to do with how we eat it. Do we take the time to enjoy our meals? Do we sit down with the people we love and share our thoughts, the funny things that happen to us, the articles we read that we want to discuss? These are all parts of the age-old ceremony of eating…what we put into our bodies is no more important than the manner in which we consume it.
So how do we make time to enjoy the food that we eat? Ace recently talked to Lucy and Olivia, two students in NYC who, sick of spending their Sundays eating and studying alone in the library, decided to start hosting a weekly brunch for their friends. Their inspiration arrived while they were in Montreal visiting Sara, a McGill student who had studied abroad at Columbia University the year before.
As Sara describes it, “I felt living in New York City there was not this intimacy that was created by a shared meal in a home. I’m not sure if it was the small apartments in Manhattan or the incredible number of really delicious restaurants, but the effect was the same: the sacred rituals of food were always on the go, in a cup or a Styrofoam container.” Sara told Lucy and Olivia about one of her friends in Montreal who had started hosting Wednesday soup nights, inviting a ton of people over through mass emails once a week in order to enjoy an inexpensive, simple, delicious meal together. The girls, who live in campus housing, say that at first they were daunted by the small size of their apartment—but they soon discovered that on Sundays nobody cares.
“I’m always amazed that despite everyone’s thousand and one errands to run, papers to write, and exams to study for, Sunday brunch still manages to make it onto the ‘to do’ list,” says Olivia. “Getting to see so many of my friends sitting, sometimes on top of each other, and laughing around one table, reminds me how important it is to slow down and share a meal together.”
Adds Lucy, “Everyone contributes food and cooks it together. If there are a lot of us we eat in shifts while talking about the week we’ve had. I love when we end up with random food items that don’t go together or non-breakfast foods that are about to expire or four different types of pork–it’s always an adventure. We’ve also been able to meet new people because everyone brings friends.”
At Ace, we know that eating four variations of pork for brunch may not be the preference of all of our readers, but the sentiment can be carried out in plethora of ways. Dinner, lunch, and coffee dates, snuck in at convenient times during the working week can be great ways to take a break from the rat race and reconnect with the people we care about. If that in itself sounds impossible, try implementing a regular weekend meal. During dinners, ask everyone at the table to put away phones, laptops, iPads, and iPods so that they can be fully present. As Olivia puts it, “The beauty of being alive is that you always have to eat, so why not share that time with those you love?”