“The family meal” conjures an image readily recognizable in the West of a man, a woman, and two or three children seated around a table to eat. It is an image kept alive by steady coverage in the mass media over the second half of the twentieth century. It is also an image of propriety: an orderly family keeping life in order, a virtue endorsed in both mass media coverage and research reporting that, by and large, people aspire to domestic arrangements whereby the family members regularly forgather to share whatever in their social milieu counts as a meal.

“The family meal” is an expression with wide currency in English. Without primary research, however, dating its origin is not straightforward. It is not listed in ...

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