Reason for Not Eating Out #28: Oh, the Places You’ll Go

And ah, the things you’ll cook, and mm, the things you’ll eat. All made by yourself, your friends, and fellow home cooking-happy strangers. When I first began “not eating out in New York,” strictly speaking, many people asked me how I would maintain my social life. My mother in particular, I think, was afraid I’d become something of a hermit, standing over a pot of risotto, stirring contentedly for hours completely lost in my own warped head, or something like that. After a few weeks of, um, stirring contentedly lost in my own warped head, I soon realized that in addition to replacing my food with only homemade fare, I was also going to have to replace a portion of my social activities with… well, I didn’t know with what at first. But yes, I was going to have to get out of the house, and cook elsewhere as much as possible.

This month has been a hectic one, just like the beginning of my last year. Last January, I visited Morocco with my pal Jordan, taking a cooking class and tasting my way through a cuisine that has fondly influenced my home cooking today. A few weeks later, I took off for a weekend trip to Napa, the prize for winning a chocolate blogging contest held by Culinate. This time around my travels are closer to home, but I’ve gone to Washington, DC., and I’m taking off for San Francisco momentarily. And once again, I can chalk up both excursions to my passion for eating in.

Over the past couple years I basically barged my way into a lot of cooking events and groups with a zeal that only the very bored, or the very obsessive can heed to. I sniffed out supper clubs like a rat searching for the choicest crumbs. I went to or held as many cooking demonstrations, cook-offs, potlucks, picnics, barbecues or plain old house parties with food as I could muster. I met people who were even more obsessive about these types of things than I.

I don’t think it’s unusual to find so many opportunities to meet new people and go to new places through cooking, especially in New York. Cook-offs, which seem to be happening literally all the time, are an occasion to do just that. I’ve gained so many friends through cook-offs that I’m no longer ashamed nor feel dorky about saying I met them at cook-offs. I’ve gone on dates with fellow cook-off contestants. (I’m not kidding.) I’ve witnessed other romances blooming between folks who met at them.

Okay, that was embarrassing. But the places you’ll go or people you’ll meet definitely don’t stop there. Everyone I seem to meet these days wants to throw a potluck or have some sort of stupendous dinner party sometime. Eating in is social — whether it’s in a person’s home or a park or the back room of a bar converted into a chili brawl. Cooking classes are also a nice way to meet cooking-in kin. And if you attend a supper club dinner, you’ll find yourself in the unique situation of being in a room full of open-minded, hungry diners who were just as curious about the event as you were, who will be more open to chatting with you, unlike at a restaurant, and who won’t know many others at the table either, unlike at a normal dinner party.

So maybe I missed out on a good networking chance now and then by foregoing a restaurant meal the two years I was not eating out as a strict rule. I probably drank more than I might have otherwise (since I allowed myself to drink out, just not eat) — an interesting side effect that I now wonder whether did more help than harm. But really, my social life could have never become what it is if I hadn’t taken home cooking out of the home.

Thanks for the concern, Mom, but I think I’ll be okay! Off to San Fran we go…

10 Responses

  1. MikeyV

    Hey cathy!!!

    It’s me, the dude who won those tickets from the feedbag, we met at the Achatz/Keller dinner’s first night attempt… remember? no, ’tis okay…

    Anywho, i’ve been putting thought into starting a new blog… crazy ideas have been brewin’ and I put myself in your shoes for a sec…

    And the first thought that came to mind when I tried to come up with “A Reason for Not Eating Out” and it wasn’t specifically the reasoning you got in this post, but very similar.

    “The things you’ll cook, and mm, the things you’ll eat.” That portion is almost exactly what I had in mind for any reason for not eating out. That and also the things you’ll share with others, which I feel like this post sort of delves into also.

    I mean that is what drives me as a cook. I’ve always told everyone I cook for, if it were for me, and only me, I would just saute a whole bunch of yummy things in butter and call it a day. But it is when I cook for others that I go above and beyond, and strive to make the perfectly seared/braised/(insert all other cooking mediums here) vegetables/meat/seafood/(insert anything cook-able here.)

    So yea… just a little something I needed to share 🙂

    Just so ya know you and Mr. Adam over at The Amateur Gourmet blog are my two inspirations for wanting to start blogging and for opening me up even further into the world of food 🙂

  2. joann kim

    Thanks for this post, not because I needed an affirmation for my recent obsession with cooking, but because I know there is a thriving community of fellow homecooks. I’ve thus attended 1 supper club and held a few large dinners and even attended a cookie bakeoff. I hope to extend my experiences as far as you’ve come.

  3. Nick

    You should turn your blog into a food dating site! Have a recipe writing contest and whoever wins, gets a drink with you. I would sign up. Do you like whiskey or wine Cathy?

  4. Joe DiStefano

    Nice! Was the Dr. Seuss reference in the title intentional?

  5. Jodi

    I haven’t thought about this in years, but a friend of mine used to have semi-regular pot-luck dinners, inviting friends, friends of friends, etc. I met all sorts of interesting people there, including the former Queen of Sikkim and Jonathan Franzen (before he was famous). Very social!

  6. dudeguy

    It’s ok to have a comment.

  7. Jay

    This is amazing. Great post, Cathy.

  8. cathy

    Thanks so much everyone!
    Nick: YOU should do it. Whiskey.
    Joe: Every completely random reference and way-off pun I make is 100% intentional…

  9. Katia

    I actually think it’s a great way to meet up with friends. Last month, since it was too cold for BBQ, I came up with the idea for my group of friends to have a cooking party. I’ve started cooking only recently, and it inspired my friends to start cooking too. So on the day of the party people either cooked food at my friend’s place or brought food, along with recipe print outs. Our boyfriends/husbands/guy friends thought it’d be too girly for them, and only 2 guys showed up, with one saying “one of my fantacies has come true: to be in a room full of women cooking.”

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