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Nov '08

Building Community, One Dinner at a Time

Dinner Club

The clinking of glasses and soft laughter. Delicious food shared with friends. Good conversation served with coffee and dessert.

As both Thanksgiving and the holiday season approach, ordinary everyday meals are transformed into an opportunity to celebrate the friendships we have as well as to welcome new people into our lives and become more active in our community.

To continue this holiday spirit throughout the year, many people are reviving the practice of home dinner clubs, potlucks, and wine drinking salons; all excellent ways help people more affordably entertain, discover new tastes and cuisines together, as well as to comfortably strengthen old and budding friendships.

As it says in this article in the Charlotte Observer:

“This group has brought a lot of people in the neighborhood together,” said Susan Seiden, a 10-year resident of Charlotte, North Carolina, on her way to a community wine club party…Each month, the host picks the theme. For October, Denise Bear chose the theme Best Wines Under $10.

The emphasis of this wine club is mainly “hors d’oeuvres and talk”, the wine is just the conversation starter that helps bring the community together.

Other culinary clubs have different purposes, including 100 mile cookoffs celebrating local food, vegetarian potlucks, charity dinners, and Shabbat meals

As it says in this recent article about dinner clubs in the Houston Chronicle:

“Home dinner clubs take on all forms, from casual potlucks to wine-paired feasts. Whether their members opt for laid-back or fancy, the clubs share a common goal: to build or strengthen friendships through food. For Woods and his interior design-trade pals, dinners are a time to catch up. Others, such as Houstonians Laurette Veres and her husband, Tom Flynn, want to expand their social circle.”

The members of Calgary’s Hollow Leg Society plan their monthly dinner club meetings online using Facebook and have been meeting for a year.

Every month, a different member hosts the dinner, and as the host, they’re allowed to plan the theme and assign dishes.

According to the Calgary Herald:

“Themes are varied. One couple hosts a dinner based entirely on food grown in their garden each fall. Another party — now an annual event — involves roasting a whole pig. Other themes have included tapas and raw food…”

Interested in starting your own dinner club? The folks at LesTout have a good article here to help you find practical inspiration for your own local gathering.

Dinner clubs and potluck gatherings with openings for new members are sometimes listed in the community section of the local and/or alternative newspaper, online on Craigslist, or via posted flyers in health food stores, supermarkets, and farmers’ markets.

(Photo Credit: Dinner Club by Banana Custard)

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