Our hands are as busy as our foremother’s must have been at quilting bees and Grange dinners but we hardly notice. We’re talking and laughing as we chop, peel, roll, crimp, and bake dozens of pies. When we relax afterwards with wine and a potluck meal, we enjoy a blissful feeling of accomplishment.
I like getting together with friends to make food. We pick apples, then spend a long delightful evening cooking down and canning applesauce. Or we make time-consuming appetizers like homemade egg rolls to freeze, ready for the months ahead. I’m all about saving time and money, especially if there’s laughter involved. It should be fun.
Communal cooking is as old as cooking itself. Pooling our energy and talents as we gather to prepare food at the fire is so ancient that it might as well rest in our DNA. It’s not hard to imagine gathering, preparing, and bringing forth each welcome meal in partnership with our friends and relatives, the oldest among us sharing their wisdom while the children learn and lend enthusiasm. Somewhere in the back of our brains the feeling may linger that we are meant to do this together. Maybe that’s why the tasks associated with getting food on the table are so arduous. If throughout the ages we humans always did this with others, of course doing the work alone seems more burdensome. We miss the camaraderie, the conversation, and the pleasure found in teamwork.
Meeting up to do large-batch cooking lets us hearken back to our roots. Such groups let us ease the burden by sharing resources, hopefully with the added perk of merriment. There are lots of ways of structuring a communal cooking group. My friends are pretty casual. We tend to call each other when a big project looms, like making hundreds of sushi rolls for a fundraiser or getting holiday baking out of the way in one day. Some groups have more formal arrangements. They meet regularly to prepare large batch meals to be frozen in smaller amounts for upcoming dinners. They may use food as a way of establishing a local bartering group. They may gather around specific dietary preferences. They may add so many members that it’s necessary to rent commercial kitchen space. The possibilities are exciting. And hopefully, fun.
For more information
Mama Bake is a “worldwide community of big batch, group cooking, laundry ignoring, Mamas.” They offer an amusing blog plus some big batch recipes.
Eat With Me is “a social networking site where you can plan cool food events, post them online and invite other foodies to join in.”
Meetup is an easy way to gather together like-minded people. Their slogan is “Do something. Learn something. Share something. Change something.”
Cooking with Friends “is an interactive community of people who cook together as a creative outlet and as a way to grow and enhance friendships.”
How to start a community kitchen
Food and Fellowship: Projects and Recipes to Feed a Community
Frozen Assets, 2E: Cook for a Day, Eat for a Month
Moosewood Restaurant Cooks for a Crowd: Recipes With a Vegetarian Emphasis for 24 or More
I think this might be of interest: https://foodconnections.ca/uploads/files/7716d54e881faabfb16f6f12d74254f3.pdf
What a fantastic resource. Thanks Catherine!