Shared Plates: How Eating Together Makes Us Human

We love eating dinner together with friends and extended family, and we miss it! But why does sharing a meal mean so much—and can we ever recreate that on Zoom? As we wait for the dinner parties, cookouts, and potlucks of our post-pandemic future, join us as we explore the science and history of communal dining. Scientist Ayelet Fishbach shares how and why eating together makes us better able to work together, and evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar and archaeologist Brian Hayden demonstrate how it actually made us human—and led to everything from the common cow to the pyramids. Plus we join food writers Nichola Fletcher and Samin Nosrat for the largest in-person banquet of all time, with Parisian waiters on bicycles, as well as the world’s biggest online lasagna party.

Episode Notes

Samin Nosrat and Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

Samin Nosrat is a chef, teacher and author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. She is a regular food columnist for The New York Times and hosts a Netflix show based on her award-winning cookbook. Samin also makes an appearance in our episode about sharbat.

Ayelet Fishbach

Ayelet Fishbach is professor of behavioral science and marketing at the University of Chicago, where she studies social psychology, management, and consumer behavior.

Robin Dunbar

Robin Dunbar is a professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Oxford. His research explores the behavioral, cognitive, and neuro-endocrinological mechanisms that underpin social bonding in primates (in general) and humans (in particular).

Brian Hayden and The Power of Feasts

Brian Hayden is an archaeologist and emeritus professor at Simon Fraser University. His current research looks at feasting as a key factor in social dynamics, and cultural and technological changes. His book, The Power of Feasts, explores the history of feasting in pre-industrial societies.

Nichola Fletcher and Charlemagne's Tablecloth: A Piquant History of Feasting

Nichola Fletcher is a food writer in Scotland and author of the book Charlemagne’s Tablecloth: A Piquant History of Feasting. In addition to writing about food, she runs Europe’s first deer farm with her husband John.

Alice Julier  and Eating Together: Food Friendship, and Inequality

Alice Julier is a sociologist who writes about inequality, food, and everyday life. She is the director of the Center for Regional Agriculture, Food, and Transformation and the author of Eating Together: Food, Friendship, and Inequality.


Click here for a transcript of the show. Please note that the transcript is provided as a courtesy and may contain errors.