It’s finally happening. I’ve been dreaming of a supper club for some years now. When I was in undergrad my mother and sister (and me when I was in town) were in “girl food”. It was amazing. It was a group of women in the food world. Every 6 weeks or so someone would host with a theme and everyone brought what they felt represented that theme. The first night I went to was Indian (I think there was a region, but I don’t remember which). One at my mother’s was “tapas” and one at my sister’s was “Comfort Food”. There were more, but these stuck in my mind. For comfort food, I made peach cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream. My old boss at Clementine (www.clementineonline.com) Annie, brought butterscotch pudding. I think my sister made Shephard’s pie, I can’t be sure but I do recall is was September of 2001.
My own and newer supper club idea has gone through various stages in my head from me doing all the cooking, to a group, to potlucks, and so much more. I even thought for awhile about a “progressive” supper club. While these are all intriguing to me, I rounded up a few food-loving friends and got some ideas. We collaborated, I thought, they suggested, I rebutted, back and forth until The Neighborhood Table was born.
To tell the truth, it was put on hold for quite awhile because I had attempted to do something of the sort back in the day with an ex-partner. He vetoed the idea fairly quickly (in every possible way to every possible version). It took a long time to remember that I could do this on my own and I was about to introduce it again some time later when he in fact did the very thing I had wanted. I know it shouldn’t have mattered and I laugh at myself already for thinking it did, but again it went on the back-burner because I didn’t want to feel like a copycat, combine efforts, or quite honestly do anything the same as what he was doing (apologies Mr.T). Thus, I needed some help. Turns out a few other friends had been thinking of something along the same lines.
But how do we do something to please everyone? How do we make this fair? I can’t afford to cook for everyone the way I truly want to and believe me, when people say “it’ll even out” – it doesn’t. When I cook for friends I am doing just that and I don’t expect something in return or that everyone’s food will be the same. But sometimes I want to make a big production and I want to explore boundaries and I want to create something I wouldn’t normally think of, and I want to make multiple courses and serve my friends, and I want to see how they like new and different things, and I really want to make a whole meal without gluten and dairy and show just how wonderful it can be and and and and alas, I just can’t afford to do it very often.
So how do we make it alright for some of us to cook a 4 course meal and some to make potato soup without eliminating folks, make sure everyone feels like they can participate (even with tuna surprise, thank you Mr. A), and most of all make sure everyone understands that their participation is as important as anyone else’s? So… we took 12 people and created a facebook group. We (well, me) laid out the rules as follows:
1. Someone will host the last Sunday of the month.
2. There is a minimum and a maximum of what the host spends. Depending on expenses you can ask the guests for $5-$12.
3. If you decide to spend more than $12 a person, then it’s on you.
4. Experiment. Use good food. No judgements. No “ewww” faces.
5. If you are in the group and don’t want to host or cook, no worries but make sure someone wants to do that month (I’ll do it!).
6. Everyone must RSVP every time.
7. The host can decide to invite more people if he/she so chooses.
8. This does NOT replace good ol’ fashioned friends over for dinner any night of the week.
And there we have The Neighborhood Table. I thought I’d get this all out there before the posts of food start coming. I already bought my 8 pounds of short ribs and I’ve made my shopping lists. I’m ready and I hope you are too!