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Announcements, 2014-09-22

How to describe an Eat-In? It’s a huge meal, a party, a gathering, a political statement, but at the same time it’s a gastronomic feast where the values of meeting and sharing are the most important aspects. The concept was born back in 2008, in San Francisco, where is was meant to happen in a public space, as an invitation to socialize and meet new people. A call to everyone, young and old, to come to the table and share the most intimate of all things: eating and enjoying food together. Each person joining an Eat-In is supposed to bring a home-cooked meal and share it with all the others around the long, long table. A fundamental part is that many different people, of different ages, professions, gender and nationalities, gather to meet and exchange ideas, dreams, values and opinions about the situation of food in our current system. An Eat-In is a peaceful “protest” against fast, cheap and easy food. And the exciting part is that it can be organized anywhere, anytime!

In my years here at the University of Gastronomic Sciences, I’ve organized a few Eat-Ins. We start each new school year with one, where about 400 students, staff members and local citizens gather to meet each other and celebrate a new chapter. A lot of Slow Food events host Eat-Ins, such as Slow Fish in Genova (600 people) or at Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre (60 people). I’ve organized small Eat-Ins at home, inviting around 10 people that don’t know each other, making them bring a home-made dish and share it with new faces. Many friendships (and romances) were born from those gatherings, but especially, a great many conversation were had,  ideas were exchanged, cultures crossed, all facilitated by the amazing atmosphere created around the table. An Eat-In is a wonderful, enriching experience, and once you’ve done it, you won’t want to feast any other way.

So let’s say you would like to organize an Eat-In in your neighborhood. First you should know how many people you are able to host, and where you want to organize it. On your 50 square meter balcony? Great! In the public park, on a farm or in front of the town hall? You might need to ask permission first. Second, you’ll need to invite people, and more importantly, you’ll need to explain what you’re organizing. Make sure everyone brings at least one something to eat & share, and if they don’t feel like cooking, a bottle of wine works just as well. You can ask people to bring their own plates and cutlery, or you can take care of that. You can sit on a blanket in the grass, or you can organize tables and chairs (which might turn out to be a bit more comfortable) Thirdly, the list of guests should not be restricted to your standard group of friends. Invite some people that don’t know each other. Think of a theme and invite an expert to say a few words before the dinner. Invite some food producers, farmers, chefs. Shake the hands that feed you! And last but not least, enjoy it fully, absorb the vibes and meet new people through the sharing of food. It works like magic, I’ve done it hundreds of times, and I would never say no to another one.

Eat it in! 

Tine

Photos by Anika Mester

For more information, you can read the Eat-In Manifest here