Food and Storytelling

Grab a snack because I have a story to tell.

Actually, seeing as how this is only my first Food Studies blog post, stock up on a lot of snacks because I have a lot of stories and hope you are happily eating as you read along in my future entries.

I say this because food and storytelling go hand in hand, at least in my own experiences. Whether it be a gathering with my large, loud and loving family or lunch in between classes with friends, every time I share a meal with people, we talk – sharing stories about school, current events or, let’s admit it, just gossip. I mean, what else are you suppose to do when eating? Eating is very much a social activity.

In fact, researchers have even found an evolutionary significance to sharing food.

(Science tangent alert: As a Human Biology major, I like to offshoot into the topics we study in attempt to remind myself that it is indeed relevant and not confined to the black and white print of our textbooks)

Photo courtesy of

Anyway, in evolutionary terms (in the simplest form: “survival of the fittest”) it generally wouldn’t make sense for primates to give up their food and share with others, risking their own chances of survival. So, how did food sharing come about?

One reason researchers have found is that food sharing evolved between primates of the opposite sex as a way to influence partner choice. Males offer food to females to attract them, showing biological fitness as a potential partner. So basically in a biological scope, food is exchanged for sex. (Does that make you think differently about that one date you went on at that one restaurant?)

But in all seriousness, in the larger sense, food is exchanged to strengthen bonds and it’s a part of human nature, whether you look at it from an evolutionary point of view or just from a regular person point of view.

Now we can see why food is the “jig” and story sharing is the “saw” that completes part of the puzzle of social interaction, because sitting down to share a meal and a story can bring people together – and has for centuries upon centuries.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros

I am a little bit random and so my second major is Spanish Literature. This is because I like reading stories and writing about them. Doing it in Spanish also allows me to mentally travel to temporarily quench my wanderlust. I honestly don’t know what I plan on doing with this degree, but the cool thing about Spanish Lit is that there are a lot of themes related to food…and the lack thereof. But I only came to this realization after identifying what it means to be a foodist.

By now, you’re probably wondering what the story I was going to tell is. Well, it’s going to be about how I develop in my understanding of Food Studies and how studying food can tie in my science nerdiness with my Spanish liberal artiness in some hopefully cohesive way.

It will also entail accounts of my adventures and what I learned about food, nutrition, hunger, agriculture and all the linkages to health while spending the summer in a rural hilltop town in El Salvador as part of a student-led nonprofit group at UT called GlobeMed.

But seeing as how you are almost finished with your snack, I will save the rest of my stories for future posts, so please keep in touch and buen provecho!



5 Comments Add yours

  1. drewebean says:

    Great post Michelle! It gives a whole new meaning to “dinner and a movie.” I look forward to reading more posts from you in the future!

  2. Welcome to the Food Studies project! I have also taken my fair share of Spanish Lit courses at UT so I am really looking forward to your posts. I absolutely enjoyed this one!

  3. asiago says:

    “So basically in a biological scope, food is exchanged for sex.” That is an interesting idea when applying it to modern days. So, basically I can offer the restaurant cook some booty in return for some free grub. I wonder if there are any contemporary examples of this type of exchange with say, homeless people?

    Michelle, I really enjoyed your first post connecting your different majors with food studies. It is really creative and I think a great example of bridging disciplines together. You are a great example of someone that could really benefit from a Food Studies program at our University, and it shows in your writing.

    Maybe we can turn our project into a Bridging Disciplines program.

    Can’t wait to read some more!

    1. mchllt says:

      Thanks everyone for your positive feedback! I am excited to be involved with this movement and get to know like-minded people.

      Asiago you raised an interesting question. From evolutionary theories, there is something called reciprocal altruism that seems to fit your proposed scenario…it’s the idea that an organism will help out another and consequently lower their own fitness in doing so, but does so as an “investment” with the expectation that their favor will be returned in the future…the “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” mentality. I’m still learning a lot in biology!

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