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Reflection: Snatched Commensality: To eat or not to eat together in times of Covid-19 in France

Fourat E., Fournier T., Lepiller O.. 2021. Food and Foodways : 10 p..

DOI: 10.1080/07409710.2021.1901383

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the French Government imposed a strict lockdown from March 17th to May 11th 2020. These extraordinary times challenged the social norm of commensality, a practice that is particularly strong and engrained in France. How has lockdown impacted meal-sharing habits? How have the rules and norms of commensality withstood the weakening of social bonds caused by lockdown? Based on a qualitative study of 20 socially diverse households, this essay proposes a typology of adaptive commensal eating patterns: 1) Eating together can provide reassurance by reproducing ordinary routines or by enacting food traditions; 2) Tinkering with lockdown rules leads to creative new forms of commensality, or to an ersatz of commensality; 3) Sharing every meal with the same people can trigger the rejection of commensal practices. These patterns may also represent possible phases in the experience of lockdown, since some individuals shifted from one pattern to another. The final part of the paper discusses the very nature of the social link highlighted through the lens of commensality.

Mots-clés : santé publique; covid-19; distanciation physique; comportement alimentaire; comportement social; comportement culturel; enquêtes auprès des ménages; enquête sanitaire; france; confinement

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