Social Food

What I tend to seek out most throughout my travels, after accommodation, is food. Despite the higher cost, I’ve decided to forego cooking for myself in order to experience what these different places have to offer. That’s what scrounging at home is for, anyway.

After Bruges, I was skeptical that Gent, another small historical city, would have much to offer in terms of local flavor. On the contrary, it ended up being a delightful surprise. It’s a major university city, with about 60,000 students living there. As a result, it has some brilliant alternative ideas. One such spot in the city’s thriving culinary scene really stood out to me.

Just off the tourist track, Parnassus is a non-profit eatery. Called a “social restaurant” it exists in order to provide broke students and professors (and travelers), the opportunity to eat a healthy, filling meal for a relatively low price. Also, it’s in an old church, which makes its concept even more fitting

More importantly, they reserve their staff spots for impoverished residents, immigrants and refugees. Instead of just charitable giving, it’s an establishment that dedicates itself to providing an opportunity to move forward in life to populations that find these chances hard to come by.

What’s more, the setup encourages diners to interact with each other, really fulfilling the concept of “social” restaurant. I’ve always loved places with such an atmosphere, since there’s hardly anything better than meeting new and interesting people. Food can only enhance the experience.

This isn’t something that I intend to preach as “everybody should do this.” Rather, it’s an interesting take on serving and improving the community. Though I do think it provides something to think about as a different approach to all sorts of businesses (note: I have no business experience, so I can only go so far as calling it interesting). 

With little time to browse the internet, I haven’t been able to explore if anybody does this at home already. So if anybody wants to share any knowledge of something similar, please do!


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