Home & Hunger: The Crossroads of Food and Thought

Sarah Davis + Paola Villa

What is home? Santa Fe tutor Paola Villa, Italian by birth, begins this episode with the Elvis Presley cliché “Home is where the heart is,” and then clarifies to host Sarah Davis that the heart is the crossroads between the stomach and the brain. From there, Villa shares French poet Ponge’s poem “Snails,” which describes the way that snails devour the land they cross, defecate on that land, and are fed by that land—all while carrying their homes on their backs. For Villa, this metaphor describes her own journey and conception of home: devouring the food and ideas of a new place, which transform her in return, while remaining deeply Italian. In Villa’s native tongue, “to know” and “to taste” have the same root, a reminder that food and mind are one, each mediated through the tongue. And the table, draped in a tablecloth, is what brings one’s family and community together—a metaphor that she also ascribes to the St. John’s seminar table, where hungry seekers come together in community to devour ideas, and to be devoured in return. This episode, rich in metaphor and poetry, connects gastronomy, language, thought, and community to a theme to which all humans can relate: wanting to know and be at home in the world.

In this Episode

  • Paola Villa
    Guest Paola Villa

    Paola Villa is a tutor at St. John's College. This semester, she is recreating experiments in junior laboratory, dissecting Kant in junior seminar, and studying Apollonius and Descartes in sophomore mathematics.

  • Host Sarah Davis

    Sarah Davis is a tutor at St. John’s College. This semester, she is discussing Aristotle in freshman seminar and Dedekind’s theory of numbers in junior mathematics.

Featured Release

The power and beauty of Homer’s imagery in the Iliad is undeniable, and his scenes of battle often prompt vexing questions about ancient and modern virtues. Can killing and dying in war be beautiful? Is a just cause required for glory to be gained? Is war a courageous way of fulfilling human nature and, ultimately, of embracing the reality that death awaits us all? This episode, in which Annapolis host Louis Petrich and tutor Erica Beall delve into the dramatic contrasts that make Homer’s work powerful and war potentially beautiful, invites us to question our own modern perspectives on this ancient text.

Browse All Episodes

Executive Producers Welcome

Continuing the Conversation was funded through the philanthropy of donors to St. John’s College. If you’d like to give to the college’s Annual Fund, your gift will go to support the kinds of inquiry and conversation that comes to life at St. John’s College. It also frees up money for creative projects like this one, which brings great conversation and great books into homes across the world.


Subscribe for Updates

St. John’s College invites the community to awaken their intellect by engaging in mindful exploration. The college offers an array of online and in-person events, ranging from world-class concerts and art exhibitions to lectures and theater performances, as well as tutor-led seminars that provide lifelong learners opportunities to study the Great Books.

Sign up to learn about upcoming events.