Dinner is Served!
It is often said “A picture is worth a thousand words.” An Afro-Colombian grandmother slips strips of plaintaino maduros into a blacken cast iron pot sizzling with hot coconut oil, and her granddaughter seated at the kitchen table, speaks about her day at school. Unconsciously, the granddaughter is absorbing her grandmother’s cooking secrets at which she will one day share with her daughter or son, and so on.
On the opposite side of the world, on a warm autumn evening, an extended Romanian family sits on wooden benches outdoors at their wood planked table holding hands and giving thanks for the Cozonac bread their wheat field literally has produced.
Contemporary family life is busy and complex. When adults are working away from home and the children are involved with many activities, sometimes family meals are fragmented. In certain cultures Sabbath, or family day dinners seem to be the only mandatory gathering to sit together and nourish their relationships with food and conversation. Is this tradition disappearing? If so why and what are the consequences?
The photographic - sociological project titled Dinner is Served feeds to the importance of assembly and mainstay that strengthens the most principled foundation in any society. It’s called family.
The photographer offers a visual glimpse into the world of these families, thus immortalizing their customs and traditions. The sociologist journals each family’s dynamic, and their recipes are recorded to be shared with other familys’ worldwide, thus bridging cultures and reducing Sectarianism.
Sociologists use the word “commensality” to denote people eating a meal together. This act of gathering with others at a specified place to partake in the body’s nourishment is universal to all known societies.
The sociological perspective completes images by giving voice to their subjects. When placed into a sociological context, photos offer the viewer a more in-depth understanding of those who are consuming. Thus, the sociological piece illuminates that experience because participants are interviewed, interactions are observed and relationships are discerned. Moreover, sociology enhances the pictures of subjects by placing meals in the context of the culture where they are consumed. The viewer is then shown not just the differences among people around the world, but the commonalities as well. Regardless of language, gender, creed or race – sustenance and family matters.