On the second Sunday of each month* at 5 PM, the quiet that descends on 18 Reasons is sudden, slightly electric, and yet calmly happy. During the proceeding half hour, moms, dads, couples, friends, and eager cooks have happily clambered into 18 Reasons, arms full of soup, braises, curries, breads, salads, and the occasional dessert. They have each set their offering (a continuum from vegan to meat loving dinners) out on our table, said hi to familiar faces and introduced themselves to new ones, announced what they’ve made, and then, quick as anything, swapped out their meals for those of four others. Arms now loaded with a completely new bounty, each person has trotted back out the door, gone again for another month. All that is left is that air, charged with the vibrancy of the 12-15 cooks.
Our monthly “SWAP: Homemade Family Dinner” is, hands down, one of my favorite events at 18 Reasons. Though only a quick 30 minutes, SWAP manages to engender each of the core principles of our organization. It brings people together to share food and meet each other. It requires that people cook meals from scratch but holds no expectations for fancy ingredients or laborious cooking preparations. But it also doesn’t penalize if someone wants to get a little creative with their kitchen acrobatics. It asks that people think about others, since it will be other bellies that are nourished by the meal they are making. It helps people put good, honest, homemade food on the table even when schedules are furiously hectic. It suggests that if we plan ahead and work together as a community, we can eat well all of the time.
Here are some photos from our most recent SWAP, which is co-hosted by A Little Yumminess, a blog written about kid friendly foodventures in the Bay Area. Anyone is welcome, and our definition of family is broad, so come join us next month! More information is available on our website.
* May only SWAP: Homemade Family Dinner will be on the third Sunday of the month at 3:30PM. In June we will return to our normal second Sundays at 4:30.