While Chowhound is devoted mainly to dining at restaurants, I want to note that some of the most excellent experiences you can have are at club events. An example was this evening's Ceres (CA) Rotary Crab Feed. Held in the American Legion hall, seating family style, this was truely folksy, and at the same time a gustatory extravaganza.
The evening started with appetizers. The chef, a local Rotarian, outdid himself--tray after tray of every imaginable hors d'oeuvre (and several that would hardly have occured to me) arrived in waves from the kitchen. This was not an event for presentation: I'm talkin' foil trays piled, heaped, laden. All accompanied by an open wine & beer bar.
Follow this by seating yourself and being served: salad, a thick concoction of lettuce, mushrooms, bay shrimp, cabbage, and God knows what else. Then spaghetti, and garlic bread. The spaghetti sauce was a richly-spiced, redolent meat sauce. Next, the main event: Enormous salad bowls full of half-crabs (Dungeness, absolute nectar)pass along the table--this is an eat-until-you-are-utterly-sated event. Pungent horseradish-tomato sauce for dipping, dig in! All the while talking a blue streak with your neighbors, a combination of people you may know from the community and people you've just met for the first time. These events seem to bring out the best in people, loosen them up & lubricate the flow of conviviality.
All through dinner, the Pres. of the Rotary is raffling off little prizes donated by local businesses--the woman sitting across from me wins two items and is flushed with pleasure.
Every community seems to have a few of these that are first rate. You have to ask around to find the good ones. Hereabouts, there are many--another great one is the Greek Food Festival at the local Orthodox church.