I've been resistant to post about Lunch Club on this blog, which is odd, considering Lunch Club is the primary outlet where food obsession manifests. Lunch Club is genius; I cook lunch for 4 friends on Sunday nights, and deliver it to their doorstep for Monday morning. Then, each friend makes lunch on their assigned evening and delivers it for the next days lunch. It's cheap, healthy, and perhaps most importantly, a laid-back, no-pressure approach to a cooking co-op.
I am afraid that making too much noise about Lunch Club will disturb its magical, harmonic simplicity. It's worked for over a year, I think mostly because we've been very relaxed about it. It is so tempting to turn it into more than what it is. I love food, and I spend a lot of time working toward a society that is community-based and mutually supportive. So of course, the logical conclusion is that Lunch Club is the revolution and I should probably write a book about it and start a non-profit that will replicate the model large-scale in at least 9 major metropolitan areas. Right?
Well, no, and besides, someone already beat me to the punch.
This book on dinner cooperatives has sparked some chatter on The Ethicurean and Bitten at the NYT.
The book is about starting a dinner co-op that sounds a lot like Lunch Club. A dinner co-op would be infinitely more complicated than lunch, particularly if you are feeding a family. Maybe you really would need to buy 88 pyrex pans in order to make it work. But the checklists, spreadsheets and trust-building exercises seem like its over-thinking it.
An ideal co-op is flexible and forgiving [say, if you decide to invent a recipe involving aduki beans and two different kinds of beer, or if your pizza dough turns out so tough that you have to maul it with your molars to eat it.] It's cool, baby. There is always lunch cart cheese sandwiches for a buck fifty. No big whoop.
Mark Bittman is pretty cynical about the feasibility of cooking co-ops. Like Bittman, I too have been subject to the failed collective house cooking arrangements and gluten-free, vegan potlucks with 6 different kinds of spelt muffins [living in West Philly is a little like living in Berkley in the 70's]. But Lunch Club has made me into a believer, with the caveat that cooking co-ops should be low-key and fun, and should lessen the stress in your life, not increase it.