There’s a new club in town, and first-year FNPP student is here to tell you all. We hope you came hungry!
There’s something about potluck gatherings that I’ve always enjoyed. First, nobody is really in charge. Everyone brings something to share, and somehow, at least at every potluck I’ve ever attended, there’s always enough food. And there’s always one person who brings the dish that is so good (or soooo bad!) that everyone remembers it afterwards. So, when I arrived at Friedman in September, I started wondering where people gathered for a potluck. There’s not much of a kitchen on campus, but there are lots of people who are passionate about food! Fast forward to this spring, when, as part of Will Masters’ Economics class, he hosted a “Least Cost Meal” potluck dinner. It’s an annual tradition – the whole class studied “least cost meals,” drew graphs, and finally gathered at Will’s house to share food and stories. Many people brought a homemade dish, then told the group about why they had made that specific dish and what it meant to them. It was a great evening, and as I looked around the room at people talking and eating together, I decided to start Friedman Potluck Club. It’s a simple Club – there’s no mailing list or sign-up sheet, or any responsibilities except to gather together and connect over food.
We had our first gathering on April 4th, in the Jaharis Café, with the theme “Favorite Childhood Flavors.” It was directly inspired by Will’s potluck evening – everyone was invited to bring a dish and tell a short story about why that food was their favorite childhood flavor. More than thirty people – students from all the Friedman programs as well as the Public Health and Medical schools, Professors, staff and others – connected over homemade and store-bought treats.
One student described baking cake with her family, another remembered her grandmother “adapting” a traditional dish to American tastes. Some shared birthday memories, and got nostalgic about foods that were the only thing they wanted to eat at a certain age. Professor Bea Rogers brought cream cheese and raisin sandwiches on rye bread, which was a typical school lunch when she was growing up in New York City. And one student brought bottles of chocolate milk and a bag of sour gummy worms because “this is what truly what got me through high school.”
Homemade childhood classics ranged from “Chocolate Chiffon cake,” “Spinach and Feta Stuffed Crescent Rolls,” “Fluffernutter Sandwiches,” “Obleas with Arequipe and Strawberry Jam” and “Peanut Butter Cookies.” Some participants adapted old favorites into vegetarian or vegan dishes, like “Jackfruit BBQ Sandwiches,” “Cheesy ‘Chicken’ Chowder,” “Chickpea Dumplings and Sauce,” and even “Gus’s New Pickles”! And one student brought blueberries and tangerines because she’d always enjoyed them when she was young.
The event was funded by Student Council, which paid for the plates, napkins, sparkling water and eating utensils. To keep the event sustainable, FPC purchased cutlery at Goodwill, and now we have a collection of knives, forks, spoons and serving spoons to use every month. It’s easy to wash and reuse the cutlery, and hopefully we can reduce the number of plastic utensils used at Student Council funded events moving forward. If you’ve got any cutlery you want to add to the collection, feel free to donate it!
Want to join Friedman Potluck Club? It’s so easy – just bring something to share to our next potluck! Or show up to enjoy the food and bring something another time. Starting in the fall, Friedman Potluck Club is planning a potluck in the Café every month! If you have ideas for themes, or other thoughts about FPC, drop me an email. And if you looking for a fun way to gather friends together this summer – host a potluck!
Katrina Sarson is a first-year student in the Friedman School Food and Nutrition Policy and Programs program. Her background is in educational media, content creation and storytelling, including producing content for PBS, Food Network, HGTV and ESPN. Her research interests are the intersection of education, nutrition knowledge and behavior change, with an emphasis on encouraging people to feel empowered by what they know about food.