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Food is the most widespread and most convenient form of entertainment” wisely argues a once-obese friend of mine. Among all the vital functions, nothing can beat eating. It’s social, unlike sleeping; it is frequent and consistent throughout all your life, unlike sex.

One could easily argue the cook, and not another pleasure provider, is indeed the most ancient job on earth. Like every other given fun thing on earth, you don’t want to abuse food, either as nourishment or as a topic of conversations. Eaten food and spoken food are almost as entertaining and feed upon each other.

Unlike most topics, everyone is qualified enough to talk about food. We all have enough repertoire to talk about (pantagruelian family dinners, undiscovered restaurants, exotic holidays) and we can all offer some personal fresh insights (national specialties, secret recipes, smart tricks).

We all become patriotic when the supremacy of our own cuisine is questioned (any country has its own flatbread or its peculiar way to cook chicken) but we all agree on the internationally accepted fact that no cooking style can beat one’s grandmother’s.

Food is the universal icebreaker that bails you out of the awkwardness of communication dead-ends, the common denominator of small talks in any language.

We may manage maintain a perfect shape but we all tend to overdose the food talking. As a result, our conversations (not to mention our social medias and tv programs) are dominated by a self-inflicted foodocracy. While it is easy to get why people shouldn’t supersize themselves, the danger of overdosing food tales is more subtle.

Why should lengthy food-based chats ring alarm bells in your mind?

You and your interlocutor may not have enough mutual knowledge or affinity to start an exchange, and thus rely on the ultimate bail out that can always trigger a conversation between strangers. The catalysis is ephemeral, taking back the parts to the initial awkward impasse.

Otherwise, and worse, you and your interlocutor may not have any other other topic where you can be as interesting for each other as when you are talking about food. The chat may still go on for hours but would gradually lose its flavor.

You don’t want to be stuck in a conversation with people who have only one topic they can fully master and be interesting in. Being food the universal common ground everyone feels confident with, talking about eating has the ability of flattening the level of exchange.

The quality of a group conversation is inversely proportional to the time elapsed before the topic food shows up. Let us let food be the only entertainment we have. After all, a book can be as expensive as a pizza. And as tasty, conversation-wise.

Last modified on Friday, 04 January 2013 14:41
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Enrico Cellini

Enrico Cellini is a graduate from the University of Bologna, with a focus on International Relations.

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