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Sharing Food, Food in Art

resources index > lesson plans > SHARING FOOD < food < social studies

Eating together, sharing food, is the way we learn to trust on another, to form community. It is in the act of eating together that a bond of trust and intimacy can form and evolve.

Throughout history artists have illustrated how we share meals. Observing how food is shared with fellow humans will help us understand more of who we are and how our ancestors have influenced us, as well as project a possible future. Use posters and prints of people eating together to create teachable moments whereever you share meals with students. ~ Gardening Ideas

• Food Quotes worth sharing:

• “Hunger knows no friend but its feeder.” ~ Aristophanes
• “Hungry people cannot be good at learning or producing anything, except perhaps violence.” ~ Pearl Bailey
“The bread you do not use is the bread of the hungry. The garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of the person who is naked. The shoes you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot. The money you keep locked away is the money of the poor. The acts of charity you do not perform are the injustices you commit.” ~ St Basil the Great
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” ~ James Beard
• “So long as we eat our bread together, we shall have sufficient even for the least. Not until one person desires to keep his own bread for himself does hunger ensue.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
• “Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.” - M. F. K. Fisher, food writer
• “The act of putting into your mouth what the earth has grown is perhaps your most direct interaction with the earth.” ~ Frances Moore Lappé
• “Peace goes into the making of a poem as flour goes into the making of bread.” ~ Pablo Neruda
• “No fool can be silent at a feast.” ~ Solon
• “If you can't feed a hundred people, feed just one.” ~ Mother Teresa
• “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” ~ Mother Teresa

The Potato-Eaters, Giclee Print
The Potato-Eaters,
Giclee Print
Vincent Van Gogh


Portrait of Antoine Augustin Parmentier, Giclee Print
Antoine-Augustin Parmentier
the French to make
potatoes legal.

Things you can do with a potato.

Potato Clay:
~ 4 or 5 potatoes, baked
~ 1 to 1 1/2 cups flour
~ food coloring (optional)

• Peel baked potatoes, mash or use a ricer to get potato to an even, fine texture.
• Add between 1 and 1 1/2 cups flour to form a dough.
• Play.


Potato Stamps:
~ raw baking potatoes
~ tempera paint or printing ink
~ saucers to hold paint/ink
~ newspapers to protect work area
~ space to lay out artwork to dry
~ old shirt to protect artist
~ kitchen knife (adult use only)
~ scissors, pencil, markers, pens, paper

• Cut a baking potato in half, the flat surface(s) of the raw potato will be your printing “plate”.
• Draw simple shapes on paper, not larger than the diameter of the potato.
• Cut the shape out of paper and place pattern on potato cut side, trace; adult cut away the background.
• Pour paint colors into separate saucers.
• Draw simple shapes on paper, not larger than the diameter of the potato.
• Cut the shape out, place on potato cut side, trace around edge; adult cut away the background (removing the center is more difficult than trimming away background).
• Make greeting cards, wrapping paper ...

A yellow circle can become a sun; a silver circle the full moon; white stars on dark blue construction paper might be a winter night.


Hanzel & Gretel Art Print
Hanzel & Gretel
Art Print,
Jessie Wilcox-Smith, illustrator

Modern Gingerbread Recipe based on Medieval Gingerbread Recipe:

  • 4 cups honey
  • 1 lb. unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 tbs. each ginger & cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground white pepper
  • pinch saffron
  • whole cloves

Bring the honey to a boil and skim off any scum. Keep the pan over very low heat and stir in the breadcrumbs and spices. When it is a thick, well-blended mass (add more bread crumbs if necessary), remove from heat & let cool slightly, then lay out on a flat surface & press firmly into an evenly shaped square or rectangle, about 3/4 of an inch thick. When cool, cut into small squares or diamonds to serve. Garnish a whole clove in the top center. OPTIONS: Add a few drops of red food coloring when adding the spices, “if thou wolt haue it Red.” The slightly cooled gingerbread can be “sculpted” by small fingers into whatever the imagination prompts- medieval gingerbread might be a dragon. [Gode Cookeryfairy tales posters]

Banquet of Ashurbanipal, Gypsum Carving from North Palace, Nineveh, circa 640BC, Giclee Print
Banquet of Ashurbanipal, Gypsum Carving from North Palace,
Nineveh, c. 640BC,
Giclee Print

The Assyrian name, “Ashur-bani-pal”, means “Ashur has made a son”, Ashur being an ancient Addadian sky god. The name is still popular today.

Ashurbanipal was the last great king of ancient Assyria. Because he was not the eldest son, Ashurbanipal was educated in his youth to read and write which may have contributed to his ordering the collection of all available cuneiform literature and systematization of the archived “documents” accumulated in administrative routines, at Ninevah, in other words, a library. The library preserved such epics as Gilgamesh. Being educated did not prevent Ashurbanipal from being a ruthless military leader.

Banquet Scene, from Thebes, circa 1400 BC (Wall Painting), Giclee Print
Banquet Scene, from Thebes, circa 1400 BC (Wall Painting),
Giclee Print

Thebes was an important city in Ancient Egypt. It was located nearly 400 miles south of the Mediterranean on the east bank of the Nile. Today Thebes is thought of as the tombs and mortuary temples on the west bank of the Nile.

The Marriage Feast at Cana, circ 1305, Giotto di Bondone
The Marriage Feast at Cana, circa 1305, Giotto di Bondone

The marriage at Cana as related in the Gospel of John was the setting for the miracle of Jesus changing water into wine.

Village Wedding Feast Art Print, Pieter Bruegel the Elder
Village Wedding Feast,
Art Print,
Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Christianity posters

Open-Air Feast, from a Book of Poems, 1554, Giclee Print
Open-Air Feast,
Book of Poems, 1554,
Giclee Print

Today an open air feast is called a picnic.

January: Banquet Scene by the Limbourg Brothers (Facsimile Manuscript), Giclee Print
January: Banquet Scene by the Limbourg Brothers (Facsimile Manuscript),
Giclee Print

A banquet, a large public meal or feast complete with main courses and desserts, usually serves a purpose such as a charitable gathering, a ceremony, or a celebration, often followed by speeches in honor of someone.

This illustration of a banquet in medieval Europe is part of the Book of Hours (a prayer book) that was commissioned by Jean, Duc de Berry around 1410, and executed primarily by the Limbourg Brothers sith support from many secondary artists.

BTW - January, first month of the year, is named for Janus, the Roman god of doors, gates, beginnings, and and endings, hence his two faces for looking forward and backwards. Janus is the root of the word describing the caretaker of doors and halls (passage ways), a janitor. Perhaps a January banquet would be a good way to honor the hard work of the maintenance staff at your school.

The Meal, Bananas, 1891, Giclee Print
The Meal, Bananas, 1891, Paul Gauguin,
Giclee Print

Artist Paul Gauguin lived as the proverbial starving artist. Here, in Tahiti, he is showing a table with bananas.

The Potato-Eaters, Giclee Print
The Potato-Eaters,
Giclee Print

Vincent van Gogh depicting the peasants he lived with at a meal of the lowly potato. Check out Peru, the home of the “lowly” potato. DYI that potatoes are the world's fourth largest food crop, following rice, wheat, and corn?

Saying Grace, Giclee Print, Norman Rockwell
Saying Grace,
Giclee Print

Norman Rockwell - Saying Grace

Square Meal in a Square Hole!, Photographic Print
Square Meal
in a Square Hole!,
Photographic Print

Dinner Time in the Trenches: A Happy Party at a Dug-Out During the British Advance. -

It has often been said that the British troops are the best-fed in the world. And well they deserve it! Conditions in our trenches are different from what they were at the beginning when the Germans had an overwhelming preponderance of guns and men. A British officer said to Mr. Philip Gibbs the other day: “Men who went through the misery of the old trench life for nine months of bad weather, never dry, never in physical comfort, always shelled, eating or sleeping or digging, feel that the time has come to get their own back. It is their turn, and they go out against the enemy with this thought in their brains, and it is this that gives then their dash and makes them reckless of any fire.” So Prussian Guards, Bradenburgers and Bavarian know. - (Official Photo.)

War or No War, the German Troops at the Front are Eating Well!, Giclee Print
War or No War, the German Troops at the Front are Eating Well!,
Giclee Print

As a counterpoint to the English side of the story, here is how the Germans portrayed the conditions of the troops for their families.

World War I posters

Napolean famously said “an army marches on its stomach”. Not only do military personnel need to eat well to perform well but what Napoleon's maxim was really points to was the importance of the supply line. Logistics - getting food, clothes, and spare parts to the front is so important that since the Second World War only one other nation than the United States attempted combat in a place not adjacent to its borders - Britain, in the Falklands.
Lifting the Fog of War - William A. Owens

Chuck Wagon, Art Print
Chuck Wagon,
Art Print

Eating Above Manhattan, Art Print
Lunch Above Manhattan,
Art Print

An Airline Steward and Air Hostess Serve a Roast Meal to Flight Passengers, Photographic Print
An Airline Steward and Air Hostess Serve a Roast Meal to Flight Passengers, Photographic Print

Airline Meal

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last updated 3/5/14