This is a website focused on exploring different flavors, and there’s no better way to do that than through multiple dinner parties. For various reasons*, my beau and I have hosted a weekly dinner party since the beginning of 2012. That’s a lot of menus to try out, and we’ve learned that the best strategy is to choose a different theme each week. Need some inspiration? Here’s a year’s worth of weekly themes.
The menus are designed with a large dinner party in mind, 20 people and easily scaled up quantity-wise for more. For smaller dinners, you probably want to take only those dishes that look most appealing to you (or provide everyone with takeout containers).
- WEEK 1: New Year’s Resolution – A menu of recipes you’ve been meaning to try, cookbooks you’ve been meaning to explore.
- WEEK 2: January Thaw Blues – Memphis style
- WEEK 3: Snow Dance Dinner – Why? See above.
- WEEK 4: Robbie Burns Day (1/25) – Scottish Food
- WEEK 1: Groundhog’s Day – Pennsylvania food
- WEEK 2: All Chocolate – Chocolate, it’s savory and sweet
- WEEK 3: New Orleans – Mardi Gras! (Depending on the year)
- WEEK 4: Carnival – Brazilian Food (Also Lent-related, but no reason to hold yourself to a single celebration)
- WEEK 1: Vermont Localvore Foods – Because Vermont became a state March 1st, and because I enjoy a challenge
- WEEK 2: All Dessert Menu – It’s my birthday, and a tradition
- WEEK 3: Cancun & Other Spring Break Destinations
- WEEK 4: March Madness – This one changes every year, but exploring the food of the states destined for the Final Four is as good a way as any to decide who to root for.
- WEEK 1: Cherry Blossom Festival – Japanese Menu
- WEEK 2: Italian-Midwestern Fusion Cuisine – Al Capone (Tax Day)
- WEEK 3: Easter / Passover – Again, depending on the year, it’s another holiday with squishy dates, really it’s a Celebrate Spring menu
- WEEK 4: New Zealand – Anzac Day. Or you could celebrate the wedding date of Prince William and Kate Middleton (April 29th, 2011) with a hearty English Menu.
- WEEK 1: Cinco de Kentucky – When stuck on whether to celebrate Cinco de Mayo or the Kentucky Derby
- WEEK 2: Irish Food – Bono’s birthday is 5/10/60 (Irish food in March would be too uncreative)
- WEEK 3: After the Race Carb Reload – In my town, there is a big 5 k race this week, and those carbs don’t just replace themselves
- WEEK 4: Spanish Menu – To celebrate publication of The Alhambra by Washington Iriving. The Alhambra itself is a palace complex in Granada built over many centuries in many styles.
- WEEK 1: Eastern European Menu – It’s my Dad’s birthday week, and he’s a man who likes his cabbage rolls
- WEEK 2: Garden Party – By the second week of June you can be certain that there will not be a frost even in the coldest hollows of northern Vermont. Most years. Granted, there isn’t much for garden-harvested food around to supply the party, but we can dream.
- WEEK 3: Vietnamese – For the first day of summer, because there’s very little cooking involved, perfect for the hot weather.
- WEEK 4: Ring-shaped Foods – Marriage equality means we’ve all run out of excuses to give for our fear of commitment.
- WEEK 1: Canada Day Menu
- WEEK 2: Bastille Day – French food or Spanish Menu – For the first time Spain won the world cup (July 11th, 2010)
- WEEK 3: South African Menu – Nelson Mandela’s birthday
- WEEK 4: Peruvian Menu – The date when Manchu Picchu was re-discovered. It doesn’t seem like it was terribly lost, since there were local people farming on it, but Yale hadn’t laid claim to the ruins until July 24th, 1911.
- WEEK 1: Feast on the Mountain – When my friend Claire decided to lose 100 pounds, she started with walking, then with hiking, and when she finished her first summer of hiking, we celebrated by trucking a 7 course meal to the top of a mountain. I can not speak to how many pounds she regained on this expedition. I carried the roast chicken in a backpack. I also filled all my water bottles with wine instead of water. There were possibly some errors in judgment. Luckily, it was a gentle hike.
- WEEK 2: Chinese Banquet – August 8th, 2008, start of the Beijing Summer Olympics. If you think this is a stretch, you could also go for Feb 21st (1972) Nixon visits China or April 23rd (1992) the world’s largest McDonald’s opens in Beijing. Or an actual Chinese holiday.
- WEEK 3: Feast of St. Anthony – A safely sea level feast from Boston’s North End
- WEEK 4: Local Ordinance-Compliant Campfire – I miss living in a rural house with a campfire pit in the backyard, luckily I am the sole possessor of a fire-free S’Mores recipe that actually tastes like S’Mores
- WEEK 1: Icelandic Cuisine – In honor of the 1972 World Chess Championships played there (Bobby Fischer won)
- WEEK 2: Hip to Be Square – Theodore “Square Deal” Roosevelt took office this week, and in his honor we bring you ice cream sandwiches, raviolis, Chex mix and other square foods. Plus a song by Queen.
- WEEK 3: County Fair – (From the Hel’s Kitchen blog)
- WEEK 4: Texas State Fair! – Very large, very Texan food.
- WEEK 1: Baltimore Foods – To recognize the day Edgar Allen Poe became. . . well, nevermore.
- WEEK 2: Foods Native to America– You can guess why.
- WEEK 3: Take Me Out to the Ballpark – The foods of Fenway (or some other, lesser, stadium) for the start of the World Series.
- WEEK 4: Scary Foods – For Halloween, of course. You’ll have to read the post to learn our definition of “scary”.
- WEEK 1: A Bipartisan Approach to Dinner – Mac and Cheese, Biscuits and Gravy, Gin and Tonic . . . some things work together as a team.
- WEEK 2: Food of Macau – To mark the death, in 1835, of Anders Ljungstedt an important merchant and historian in Macau. Is this stretching the definition of “significant date” as an excuse for Macanese food? Yes, yes it is. Or, as I like to think of it, an example of why the world does need Wikipedia.
- WEEK 3: Turkish Cuisine . . . for Turkey Day. Go ahead and roll your eyes, it tastes good and it’s unexpected.
- WEEK 4: Moroccan Cuisine and Champagne Cocktails – Casablanca was released this week in 1942
- WEEK 1: Advent Calendar – With a little help from the Flavor Bible we demonstrate it’s possible to string together a series of 26 bites into one meal. Which I guess makes it a Boxing Day advent calendar.
- WEEK 2: Scandinavian Cuisine for Santa Lucia
- WEEK 3: 1,001 Nights Menu for the Longest Night in the Year
- WEEK 4: Condimentia – What do condiments have to do with the last week of the year? You’ll have to read the menu to find out.
*Those “various reasons” are that when he first moved into his house, it was furnished with plastic tables and a couch from somebody’s basement and when I pointed out that it was depressing, he said we’d fill it with people and I’d never notice the missing furniture. We did fill it with people. And, when I moved in, we filled it with things like a new couch and tables made from wood., too.