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  • Writer's pictureGary Mack

Distance Dining Club in Lockdown

Updated: May 14, 2020

I would like to introduce to you Distance Dining Club. You can listen to our Distance Dining story on BBC 4 Your and Yours click here to listen (22m 11s in)

Take a look at my Instagram, you will see how much I love food. Food is a big part of life for me. My question is, what is life without dining with friends? What is life without making others happy? Without food, we would not be here. They say that human evolution would not have happened if we had not introduced fire to our meals and gosh where would we be without bread? You're not going to find out how we evolved and what we would be like without wine or fermented food from this blog, I just want us to eat together!

Can we eat together, please? Can we share together? Can I just cook for you or taste your food? Do we eat the same? Do we cook the same? So many questions. Lockdown is now in its 7th week, and a group of us have been sharing little tasters of bread, cake, biscuits, milk, yeast, the list goes on. I love the fact we are sharing and connecting but can we eat together, PLEASE? The answer is no, not the way we used to.

How can we pretend that we are sharing the food and love we would if we were all sitting around a table, with food and merriment flowing? Cue: Distance Dining Club! I asked four friends if they would be happy to make a meal and split it into five portions. (See where I am going!) We all cook once a week then deliver. That way we can all dine distantly but together. In many ways cooking for five is just as easy as cooking for one or even two. It can be so much more cost-efficient, and there can be less waste. Also if you know you're cooking one meal a week, you can splash out, knowing that you get four other meals in return without having to spend money or wash pots and pans!

Welcome to Distance Dining Club!

I am fortunate to have Jonathan, we can cook for each other and tell each other how delicious our meals are. It's different for friends that live on their own or families that are cooking two to three times every day. We all know what a joy it is to share a meal, we just have to do distance dining for a while. So what to do? How do we make this work? One dish and five portions, cook once a week and deliver to the rest of the group. We get to see faces from the garden gate and make sure people are doing OK. I was actually surprised that the four said yes, they immediately saw the joy in distance dining. Saying that ...... I then told them that we had to all have the same dishes, and it would cost £23 to be in the club - I jumped on the internet and ordered 25 glass dishes with locking lids, they are oven, microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe. This takes me back to Friday club when I was 7 to 10 years old. 8 to 12 kids would come round my house after school on a Friday night, I would charge them 15p for a 10p poke (Scottish term for a paper bag full of sweeties) and a packet of 5p crips. Looking back, nothing has changed. Honestly, I just held my breath and hoped with all my heart that the group would love the idea and the food, that they would be patient, that we would keep the connection, and that somehow it would grow. We have lots of local friends. Would seven dishes be too much?

It turns out that distance dining is an incredible moment in a lockdown day. That short. sweet garden gate chat. The warm dish being left on the doorstep, even the cold dishes that need finishing off in the oven fill us all with happiness. There is something here for all of us. I honestly believe that distance dining is good for our wellbeing at this time. Cooking for me is relaxing and eating is a pleasure. If you mix those two things together with seeing friends smile I know I am not to a good thing.

Why not start your own Distance Dining Club? Four steps you need to take to start your own Distance Dining Club: 1. Get four other people to agree to cook a meal for five and form a WhatsApp group. 2. Ask each person, if they have five tubs or bowls to transport their meals. Best if they're oven and microwave safe. Storage may need to be bought, but you can also use any tub. 3. Start cooking, let people know when you will be cooking and when food will be delivered.

4. Swap pictures of your distance dining and (positive reviews!) within your group and beyond on social using #distancediningclub and tag me @garysgrub The most important thing about distance dining is to make it fun.

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