Secular family suppering

by Amy Monsky, Secular Humanist Families of Charleston

It all started with a Meyer lemon.  At least, that’s how I like to think of it.

While sitting around trying to figure out what to do with a bowlful of Meyer lemons one day, Nicole Imlas decided to try her hand at preserving them.  And once she made preserved lemons, chances were, she would want to do something with them.  She was reminded of Morocco where preserved lemons are a common condiment.  Once she thought of Moroccan cuisine, which she had never tried but about which she had heard her friends speak fondly, she wanted to try it for herself. Too bad for her, there are no Moroccan restaurants in our area.

But Nicole is not one to be easily discouraged.  Is she not a freethinker, adept at solving problems and thinking outside the box?  Why not, she thought, create her own delicious Moroccan food?  Or better yet, why not invite some friends and make a dinner party of it?  So that’s exactly what she did.

She sat down at her computer and thoughtfully outlined her idea of an international supper club to our group, the Secular Humanist Families of Charleston.  “My idea is that we let our tastebuds go globetrotting from the comfort of our own homes. We will all toil in front of hot stoves and we will share the spoils,” she wrote along with the logistics of how she envisioned it would work.  She had me at globetrotting tastebuds.

And I wasn’t the only one.  No fewer than 19 women quickly and eagerly RSVPed.  Nicole developed a menu and each of us selected a dish to make.  With choices ranging from soups and breads to entrees and desserts, there was something for everyone and every ability.

When the big night arrived, women came in by the carload.  After carefully arranging the many gorgeous dishes of food and after much excited chatter, we sat down to dine.  Though Nicole was worried that her home would be too small for that many people, her concerns turned out to be unwarranted.  It is true that we all were not able to sit around her kitchen table, but Nicole (did I mention she is not easily discouraged?) creatively improvised a dining surface out of a large piece of plywood in her living room.  A beautiful piece of fabric draped across her new table and some well placed candles helped set the mood for our international journey.

It was a glorious experience.  Not only were our senses awakened to tastes and smells many of us had never experienced, there was a tangible feeling of sisterhood as we bonded over a mutual sense of pride and accomplishment.  One of the moms looked around in amazement and said, “Wow!  We did this!”  I will not soon forget the memories made that night.

Later in the evening, Nicole passed the torch.  Brenda would be our next hostess and, being from Mexico, she would take us on a delicious tour of authentic Mexican cuisine.  Brenda’s night was hugely successful and, being open to both men and couples, saw well over 20 people in attendance.  We are now in the midst of planning our third supper club which will feature the recipes of the hostess’ northern Italian grandmother.

Although Moms Nights Out are a regular monthly activity for us, I absolutely love our Supper Club.  I love the virtual trips to faraway places and I adore the camaraderie.  Not only have I been able to experience new dishes prepared by my friends, I have learned how to make new recipes that I would not have otherwise learned.  Furthermore, I have been able to take my new-found skills back to my own appreciative family.  The Supper Club has been an all-around win.

I’d like to share this idea with other groups.  It is easy to execute and no experience is required.  However, to make it a little easier, I’ve included supper club guidelines.  I’ve also included Morocco Supper Club recipes, from our Moroccan night.  All you have to do is select a hostess, modify any of the guidelines to fit your group’s specific needs, and email your members!

Bon appetit!

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