Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Meals are what this Companion accompanies. Food is a component. Commensality, eating together—and even when dining alone, as M. F. K. Fisher cogently observed, there may often be a (self) reflective companion—is the heart of it.

Philosophers from Epicurus to brillat-Savarin, anthropologists from Claude Lévi-Strauss (1978) to Mary Douglas (1982), and writers of cookery books in every century have viewed the meal as the point of it all. But eating does not necessarily constitute a meal, otherwise how would our children make sense of the prohibition on eating between meals?