It’s been six months since COVID-19 has had us staying home to protect our communities. I don’t know what things are going to look like six months from now or even six months from then. But one of the things I miss most from the before times is meeting my friends and family at restaurants. There’s something special about the conversations shared over delicious food. When appetites are satiated, it makes it easier to share and dive deep on touchy topics. Our bodies feel safe so our minds can venture to push ideals or values outside what was previously thought possible. This is probably why politics inevitably come up at Thanksgiving and not at the 4th of July barbecue when everyone is too hot and sticky to get into any more discomfort.
I wanted to recreate this perfect conversational atmosphere in a safe, responsible way. Now that my pod has extended from my immediate family to include a few friends, I’ve started having people over to my patio for meals and feel comfortable visiting my other pod people’s decks and backyards for socially distanced gatherings, too. Now is the perfect time to start a supper club with your pod people.
There are tons of ways to host a supper club: one person preparing everything, taking turns picking recipes, cooking whatever strikes your whimsy. For a while, I was cooking a full sized meal and inviting whoever was available to share it with me. Cooking for one can be hard and this relieved some of the pressure of using up leftovers. The way a supper club has worked for me best is basing the gatherings around a cookbook and taking turns making different dishes from the chosen book. Guests are responsible for side dishes, drinks, and dessert. That way there’s not too much work on any one person. The last thing supper club is supposed to do is add to anyone’s pandemic burnout.
Supper club is supposed to battle the myth that we are facing life alone and only need to look out for ourselves. It’s made to foster community in a time of isolation. It gets us out of our own heads and into a place where we can do something tangible for people we love. Supper club is for deep conversations and connections, not another thing to add to American’s already long to do lists. So if you’re interested, here are some great cookbooks to get you started in making your own supper club. Or at least a few places to start finding new recipes to cook for dinner in a world where we feel like we’re stuck in the 283rd reboot of The Good Place.
By the way, if you’re as crazy about The Good Place as I am and want to read some great romances based on characters from the show, check out this article. Or if you wonder what your points total would be based on your book life, check this out.
Cookbooks for Supper Clubs
Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food by Nik Sharma
100 recipes and even more gorgeous photos teaching people how to use Indian flavors and food combined with familiar ingredients. This book is as approachable as it is beautiful. Season is the James Beard Nominee 2019 for Best Cookbook Photography. It takes recipes from California and the American South and turns them into completely new experiences with different flavor profiles you might not have previously considered. This book pairs the comfort of familiar recipes like Deviled Eggs with Indian flavors like Creamy Tahini and Za’atar. Other recipes include Caprese Salad with Sweet Tamarind Dressing and Apple Masala Chai Cake.
A Simple Feast is half cookbook, half storybook. Yen sets up the recipes loosely according to season, but more surrounding events such as apple picking, snow days, and beach days. This is helpful because it takes into consideration what’s in season when and helps you plan accordingly. A Simple Feast not only gives recipes to try for supper club, but conversation pieces as well. Yen’s stories can serve as a jumping off point for topics of conversation over supper. It will spark nostalgia with chapters like “Childhood Favorites” and “Date Night.” Most of the recipes are simple, but elegant, and not too intimidating for a new cook, while still having great flavor for the seasoned at home chef. Cocktails and drinks are grouped with dishes to make planning an evening get together even easier. Yes, the Spiced Pear Prosecco Cocktail would be excellent paired with Mixed Crostini.
Over Easy: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Leisurely Days by Joy Wilson
Over Easy is a brunch book. Supper club shouldn’t be limited to evening meals only, especially in a time where so many are working from home and a mid-morning weekend meal might be just what you need to actually make it feel like the weekend at home and not your office. The nice thing about brunch is it can be breakfast and lunch. The host can make Wilson’s Baked Ratatouille Hash with Fried Eggs while guests bring her Dill Pickle Bloody Mary or Book Club Chicken Salad, and it all somehow works together. I don’t make the brunch rules; I just benefit from them. This is the time for both Beignets and Beer-Braised Kielbasa, Potatoes, and Onions. Don’t question it, just enjoy Wilson’s wide range of recipes and drink before noon without having to feel guilty, because brunch rules.