Per Jim's urging a while back, I wanted to tell you about a club I started with a friend. It's my Eating Out club, alternately called the Dining Club, Dining Out Club, The International Dining Out Club...well, you get the picture.
One fine evening at Mario's Peruvian Seafood (in LA), my friend Torrey and I bonded over our obsession with food. There were hundreds of restaurants and cuisines we wanted to try, so why didn't we set a date each month to eat something we'd never eaten before...alphabetically? Oh, and we *had* to learn something about the cuisine and/or culture to complete each month's learning experience. We figured there was a snowball's chance in hell any of our friends would be interested in joining us, so at that moment the "club" consisted of me, Torrey and my boyfriend (whose arm I knew I could twist and drag along).
We were surprised when a dozen friends RSVP'd for Argentinian. We were less surprised when only five of us crammed into a car and drove 45 minutes for Burmese. We've only made it to "E" - that's Ethiopian this Friday - but the group has grown to 8-12 regular members and a ton of salivating groupies (we're trying to keep it a semi-manageable size, so there is something of a "wait list"). The mission statement has evolved to: sampling cuisines *most* of the group hasn't tried before, which is fine with me as I love introducing curious friends to new and exciting culinary offerings.
Oh, and the part about learning something to share with the group? That part's the most fun. One of the core group members threw down the gauntlet during "B" by learning the Myanmar national anthem in the native tongue, leading to lively conversation about Asian politics, travel, etc. At Cajun we recited the Cajun Night Before Christmas, debated hot sauces and learned about the history of Arcadians. And so on.
Organizing this club has been a blast, and really opened up some food horizons for people who might have otherwise been a bit timid about trying new things; it's seriously demystified when you're surrounded by 6 or 7 other people who haven't tried something before either. Hopefully we're creating new chowhounds, one dog at a time.
PS - Torrey, a longtime LA lurker, promises to post as a Seattle 'hound, as she moved north last week (we'll miss you, Miss Catfish Authority).