When I was small, every once in a while, my parents would shuttle the three of us kids — me, my little sis Becky and little brother, Cam — to one of our grandparents’ houses.
Generally these weekends were full of fun, fun and fun. We got to eat Kraft Mac & Cheese and Cheetos and Oreos, we made trips to the park to picnic and build dams and catch pollywogs; we went to the movies where Grandma Evie would smuggle in candy we had agonizingly chosen at the drug store; we went down the street to the schoolyard to slide and monkey on the bars.
At my Kong-Kong (grandpa) and Grandma Sharon’s house, I would do experiments with my chemistry set, tumble rocks till they were smooth, and play dress up with out special bin of scarves & costume jewelry. We had season tickets to a special children’s performance at the symphony and afterwards, we would go out to dinner where I would eat a full rack of ribs, a baked potato (hold the greens!) and a “Pie-in-the-sky” for dessert.
Our trips varied predictably — the same activities in different orders — but a few weekends stand out in my memory. One such weekend was the weekend of the neighborhood block party at Kong Kong and Grandma Sharon’s. There were fireworks, there were hula-hoops. I think there was even a magician. But most of all, there was food. It was the middle of a Southern California summer, and hot. Everybody brought out their oven-fried chicken legs, their weenies and potato chips, their potato salad and watermelon. I remember roving from house to house and getting food handed to me along the way.
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a block party since then. This is an American tradition that really needs reviving. With all the labels and “do-nots” surrounding food issues these days, it’s nice to switch to the more positive once in a while and celebrate the bounty we do have. Sharing food in the community seems like the right venue to get conversations going about our values and what we care about in food for our neighborhoods, families, planet.
This seems to be a modern-day take on the “Block Party” that’s been taking place in some big cities across the world. Cool idea — we have lots of potlucks on the island, but maybe I’ll try to put something bigger together on the farm.