Eat with me ....
There seems to be a constant flow of inspiring, underground subcultures that are sprouting their seeds throughout Melbourne via the epidemic of social media. I recently came upon a new and oh-so-melbourne concept called eat-with-me. It aims to bring strangers together who share an interest in food and community. Anyone can join and anyone can initiate an event or be a participant. Being a foodie and general peeps-o-phile, I decided to join and attended my first event on Mother's day. The only request posted was to bring something your mum likes to cook. I signed up and waited to be accepted by the host. It appeared that fourteen other people were as curious as me to attend a completely random lunch at a random place on a random Sunday. I discovered I had been accepted and the location and personal details of the host was then cleverly revealed.
I made an organic salad, drove down Punt rd in the rain and arrived at a private apartment in Fitzroy filled with curiousity and anticipation. Someone answered the door and I found myself greeted by a room full of friendly, colourfully dressed women who were standing around the kitchen smiling quietly which confirmed to me they were all indeed strangers. Bethany was a wonderful hostess with wine glasses filled and a spread of food ready to go. The demographic seemed very familiar and comfortable. Predominantly women in their late twenties to mid thirties, dressed in bright cardigans, opp shop dresses and jeans whose jobs ranged from ex-lawyers come teachers, to journalists and environmental scientists.
There was a wonderful fluidity to the afternoon which began with a perfect, yet totally unplanned array of food. From trout roulade and chicken pie to lemon meringue tart, apple pie and and home made cassata ice cream, it was clear that everyone had put thought and time into their dishes. The pumpkin scones were particularly tasty and the beer bread was certainly a novel experience. This was all complemented by a reliable bottle of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.
I realised early on that I was the only south side of the river representative and interestingly discovered that this bunch had all come from a five kilometre radius of each other. In fact, Bethany had explained that a neighbour in her building had met her through eat with me. I was also surprised to hear that the lunch was in such high demand, six people were declined due to lack of space in Bethany's apartment and sadly four were no shows which seemed a little inconsiderate. It made me think that the website perhaps needed an updated function whereby you could review your host and your guests for reliability.
We sat around Bethany's seventies teak table enquiring into each others lives, discussing random topics like whether our dishes lived up to our mothers' version of them and how we all feel about parking tickets, there was a debate about whether Juila Guillard had public speaking lessons and only one moment of awkward silence. On further enquiry into eat-with-me, I learnt that although still in its early stages, it has become a global curiousity with people in Lebanon, Telaviv and many others countries who have joined up and are hosting foodie events. It made me reflect how the world is becoming such a strange place whereby you meet your next door neighbours through social media websites and discover that whilst you are celebrating mothers day with a bunch of strangers and a few good pies, somewhere across the globe there are possibly a bunch of Israeli's meeting over hummus and tabouli because of a few innovative people in Melbourne.
I was disappointed to have to leave early as there were people who I would have liked to know more about. There was an exciting feeling of not knowing when or where we might all cross paths again. After a delightful afternoon lunch I am inspired to host my own event and will check my inbox to see if the Northsiders will cross the Yarra for the sake of food and community or whether my event will be inhabited by a whole bunch of new faces. Life is full of surprises and eat-with-me is one that I'm happy I stumbled upon.