I’ve always been an organizer. So it probably was no accident that soon after we moved back to Minnesota in 1985, I started up a “Gourmet Dinner Club.” It seemed an unlikely group, with three other couples whose only common bond was their connection to me and an invitation to a trial dinner at our house. But somehow it all worked.
Before going any further, I should quickly dispel any notions that this was a high-brow, strictly silver palate group. The concept was simple: The host chose the theme, planned the main course and provided the wine. The other accompanying dishes were provided by the guests. Sometimes assignments were made, occasionally recipes were provided (by those who required control!), and at times it was left up to participants to choose. Most often the meals were delicious. A few were marathon sessions of overly rich foods. Occasionally a dish was a complete flop. Once we even took ourselves out to dinner.
We’ve seen plenty of change over the years. In the early stages, dinners often required a trip to the library to research ethnic recipes. Themes were sometimes elaborate – remember those “Mystery Dinner” games? Yes, we did them in full costume. Then children came along, and recipe selections were based on what could be prepared between a soccer game and driving carpool to music lessons. Since then the internet has simplified everything.
And here we are, 27 years later and still going strong! We’ve seen each other through raising children, weddings and now grandchildren. We’ve shared the loss of parents, and the stress of job changes. We’ve marveled at tales of exotic travel, and agreed on the simple pleasures of going Up North. We came together for the food, but we’ve stayed together for the friendship.