Eating is not only an individual delight but also, and mainly, a communal experience. Family reunions mean sharing story after story around the table. The food served becomes the backdrop for a renewal of mutual concerns remembered and new events announced. Those of us who have to travel for business may need to eat alone, but may not relish doing so. Travelers often end up at a local hangout not only to order a beer but to find a bartender or other patrons to converse with. Breaking bread with a friend is why I baked that loaf in the first place. A dinner scheduled to last for perhaps two hours can put us in a zone of leisure that seems to go on without our knowing how so much time has passed.
—from the book Table of Plenty: Good Food for Body and Spirit
by Susan Muto