Is It a Pleasure to Eat Together? : Theoretical Reflections on Conviviality and the Mediterranean Diet
In 2013 the Mediterranean Diet was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible cultural heritage of Spain, Greece, Italy and Morocco. Conviviality – the pleasure of eating together – was recognized as the cornerstone of food culture in the region. Although the concept of commensality has been explored widely in the literature, studies on conviviality and convivial dining are almost non-existent. This review explores the concept of conviviality and its significance in relation to the Mediterranean Diet. It draws on sociological and anthropological literature to define conviviality and to address the perceived benefits of eating together as well as the social constraints on pleasurable meals. The paper draws upon the work of French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and his ideas of Habitus, Field and Cultural Capital, examining how these concepts relate to pleasurable eating and conviviality. It offers an interdisciplinary perspective on who and what makes conviviality happen and the potential obstacles to the experience and promotion of convivial dining.