Stone Soup and Salad

In this age of digital communication it's too easy to forget the simple pleasure of sharing conversation over a meal.

A few weeks ago my husband and I got together with a couple of friends. I prepared a large salad with pesto dressing using ingredients from the CSA. One friend provided a frittata and the other brought drinks. We served the food on paper plates with a hearty helping of good conversation, then we wrapped up the night with a board game.

This meal made me realize that dinner parties don’t have to be formal, or even have a single host. Potlucks don’t have to be huge gatherings either. Simply inviting a few friends together and assigning one part of the meal to each makes for a wonderful time. Meal planning is easy for everyone involved because no one has to worry about anything except their one contribution. The salad-and-frittata meal came about because one friend offered a main dish and we decided to provide the side, but with a little more organizational effort, we could coordinate a themed meal. A baked potato bar, for instance, with one person providing the potatoes and everyone else bringing various toppings. 

Another way that I’ve nurtured friendships through the contents of the CSA box is to invite a single friend or a college student in for a home-cooked meal. I may feel like the meal is nothing special, but to someone who hardly cooks anything without a microwave, any food prepared from scratch is a treat. 

The social interaction doesn’t have to begin only when everyone gathers around the table. The other night we went over to my sister’s and prepared a meal together. We brought shredded chicken and pesto (yes, we consume a lot of pesto…) and my sister provided the other ingredients necessary to make green lasagna.

Sharing food with friends is a great way to use ingredients that otherwise don’t fit well into your meal plan. The first get-together I mentioned is a great example: My husband and I aren’t big salad eaters, and with a whole bunch of spring greens in our CSA box, sharing a salad with our friends meant none of it went to waste; vegetables that would have been random and out-of place can become part of a great meal when more than one person contributes something (Stone Soup!). Since the CSA box often contains food that wouldn't have necessarily been on your shopping list, winding up with a few odds and ends is normal. Instead of a negative, I've found this to be a positive enrichment to my social life!

Food and fellowship have always gone hand-in-hand. I shouldn’t be at all surprised that participating in a CSA has influenced my social interactions in the way it has. I anticipated making friends with the farmers and others I met through picking up the box at the farmers market, but I didn’t think as much about the way it would bring me closer to the people I already know and love. 

Invite someone over to share a meal this week.

No need to set up anything elaborate; simply ask them to bring a little something and provide a little something yourself and see how it goes.