I started hosting Them Dinners for three reasons:
I hope it’s pretty obvious which of those items, from a standpoint of meaning, is doing the bulk of the work. Hint: a new potato ricer does not imbue my life with meaning. Now don’t get me wrong: I can’t freaking wait to get a potato ricer and make some damn gnocchi. But I grew up in a family that sat down nightly for dinner, usually made by the three boys of the house. I recall hand-written, detailed instructions on legal pads leading my brother and I through all the prep work that had to be done before Dad got home and got cooking. Through high school, the bro and I would switch off between sous chef and dishwasher. Once college hit that disappeared apart from the occasional dinner party. It’s tough to buy ingredients in single portion size, and tough to plan anything consistent, even with housemates. We are living in the age of the flash mob, and flash mobs don’t do consistency.
I am not going to wax philosophical on the importance of cooking for and with friends on a regular basis. Suffice it to say, I think it is important. Them Dinners is my way to carve that out without stressing about a day that works for everyone. I can control my schedule (barely), so I start there.
If you and your friends are similarly busy, please start up a Them Dinners With You. You can control your schedule, so carve out the time. Let people know when the cooking goes down and how many people can show up. If weekly is too much, do biweekly or monthly. If from scratch is too much, open a couple cans here and there. If five guests is overwhelming, cap it at two or three.
Let’s say you drink the Kool-Aid and start your own Them Dinners: take some pics and let me know what tasty treats you get into. And, it goes without saying, I expect an invite if you’re in or near Philly!