Livin’ large with Marge

Jan 302008
Authors: Maggie Canty

Food tastes better with people.

No matter how well balanced and rounded, a meal simply cannot be complete without company.

And no, Monday Night Football does not count.

However, having a group over for dinner requires both time and money – two things most students don’t have.

But don’t take the Easy Mac plunge yet. A solution exists: The potluck.

This may sound like something from the nursing home activities list, but bear with me. Potlucks can be cool.

Inviting a group over for dinner once a week, and asking them to bring an ingredient or side is not only a good way to try new things, but to meet new people.

And conversation makes the best side dish.

This doesn’t have to be fancy to be good. Every Thursday a few of my good friends have an “Once” meal at their house. A tradition they learned from studying abroad in Chile, “Once” involves putting eggs, avocado, tomato and cheese over rolls to create an open -faced sandwich.

Sliced pears and apples, along with a simple salad, accompany the main dish.

Each guest is asked to bring one of the simple ingredients, so no one is forced to spend a lot of money.

And whoever hosts usually ends up with the leftovers. Fourth meal, anyone?

With the addition of wine and some decent music, their house has become the favorite weekly get-together for most of their friends.

Not even the Thursday beer specials beat it.

The best part about “Once,” in my opinion, is that it is not exclusive or mandatory. If I have time that week, I pick up a tomato or whatever they need and show up.

There’s always new people and food, and it seems to taste better every time.

Especially after the second glass of wine.

If I can’t make it, I don’t worry about it. If I want to bring a friend, I call with a heads-up and as long as we both contribute, it’s no problem.

It’s casual, it’s easy and it’s fun.

“Once” isn’t the only affordable group dinner. I have experimented before with a taco bar, breakfast foods and pizza – bring your own topping. The type of meal can vary, and as long as everyone contributes, it can be cheap and efficient.

If your struggling to decide who’d you invite, stop. Invite anyone who eats. Food can be the best way to get to know people or catch up with those you already do. Full mouths will make up for any awkward silences.

Which as time goes on, you’ll find there will be less and less.

And as long as it involves food, you’ll find you won’t have to ask most students more than once.

If you even have to ask them at all.

Verve and entertainment editor Maggie Canty can be reached at

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