Group Food Love
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because it should be feast, not famine.
By Rachel Levin
It can be daunting, making dinner for anyone beside yourself or the person who shares your bed or the child you gave birth to. Your family understands that sometimes you accidentally mistake cayenne pepper for chili powder and still loves you after supper. But friends? Strangers? Not so much.
Cooking for a group is beyond most people’s comfort level. Fear not! For those of us who are not Italian grandmothers or have never worn Dansko clogs in a commercial kitchen, here’s your inspiration. Feed Your People is a new food blog with a singular focus: big batch cooking.
Launched recently by Leslie Jonath, veteran cookbook editor and owner of Connected Dots Media, Feed Your People is an inviting blog that mixes storytelling and strategies, multicultural recipes and food-related charities. It’s the kind of site where you can pick up practical tips, like how to feed 20 people without breaking the bank, and then scroll down to learn how to make Bagna Cauda (a “hot bath” of olive oil, garlic and salt-packed anchovies, served as a dip with fresh fennel, carrots, and fall roots). You can read all about the women roasting, stirring, stuffing and prepping for the Night Market fundraiser for non-profit incubator La Cocina. For instance, Bini Pradhan of Bini’s Kitchen who made 15,000 lamb momos (Nepalese dumplings), with the help of 17 volunteers over two weeks.
Culinary talent? I mean, sure, if you’ve got it — but if you don’t, don’t let that deter you…
But what’s best about Feed Your People is that it reminds you what cooking is really about: nourishment, connection, community. Culinary talent? I mean, sure, if you’ve got it — but if you don’t, don’t let that deter you from tossing a bunch of mussels and shrimp and chorizo into a giant paella pan, dousing it with saffron and paprika (the site has a great recipe), and calling it a party.
Or, fine, start with something easier, like soup. That’s how Jonath began at her home in Oakland, California years ago. She’d make two big pots of minestrone on her old Wedgewood stove in her little galley kitchen and tell people to come over. “I’d stress out about who to invite and so I’d just invite everyone,” she says, “and then I’d panic that I would have too many people. But then I would panic that no one would come… so I’d invite the butcher… the random folks I met while shopping for ingredients… Suddenly, it’d be 30 or 40 people crammed into my tiny house.”
For me, the act of feeding people feeds me, both literally and spiritually.
Sure, Jonath likes to cook — and is really good at it. But that’s not what ultimately drives her to make dinner for dozens of people on any given night. “For me, the act of feeding people feeds me, both literally and spiritually,” she says. “In Nepal, making dumplings is a family activity. Same is true for making tamales, dim sum, empanadas, latkes. It’s all about togetherness.”
Which, Jonath says, is the ultimate goal for her site. “To gather secrets and stories, about how and why we feed each other, from home cooks and celebrity chefs and big-hearted folks… To inspire people to cook unfussy food. To be inclusive.”
To, you know, feed your peeps.