|Tad Barney photo|
I had not anticipated the breadth of the feast, nor the event itself, something called dinner in the field, which included a hearty country meal (smoked pheasant and bruschetta appetizers, grilled pork and chicken, skinned mashed potatoes, giant kettle-cooked green beans, grilled corn on the cob, homemade bread and applesauce, crisp and light cole slaw, ice cream and fresh berries) and local farmers, including vintners and beer makers, with their products. It was a celebration of agriculture and felt like the American equivalent of a Tuscan al fresco dinner. Long tables lined the apple orchard, where we sat communally savoring the multi-sensory experience of food, conversation, live music, acquainting with strangers and chatting with regional fruit, vegetable and animal growers.
It was magical.
And reminded me of an article I clipped years ago from Saveur, a real foodie magazine, focused on an Italian town that annually blocked the main street, while residents prepared a spaghetti feast for the entire population. There was a wonderful glossy black-and-white photo of those long tables, dressed in linen and dishes, end to end.
It gave me an idea to host such a meal in my hometown, Milford. Back then, I was involved with a terrific organization called Neighbor-to-Neighbor, initially created to bridge the 2001 Cincinnati race riots. I wanted this group to take it on as a "One Day Dinner" – kind of like a Sunday dinner, but with the emphasis of celebrating our alikeness, not our differences. It didn't fly, but the idea still hasn't left me.
I wonder why not.
I like the idea of a community pitching in, organizing, cooking and eating together. There's such ritual and congregation that revolves around eating a communal meal.
I LOVE food preparation. It's creative, cathartic, relaxing, energizing, sensual, artful and a bazillion other things. Imagine it magnified with more people involved.
I'm hungry all ready.
• How have I noticed food collecting people?
• What opportunities are there to gather my community?
• In what other ways could I be active in my community?
• How is it important to me to support local businesses/farmers?
• For what in my community am I grateful?
to the field