by Malinda Dunlap Fillingim
If you ever find yourself starving for food or fellowship in North Carolina, find a church that’s hosting a dinner on the grounds, otherwise known as a potluck or covered-dish supper. You won’t leave hungry.
I came across a bound index card collection of recipes compiled by the women of Wilmington’s Grace United Methodist Church that were served for their Taste and Tell luncheon in 1972.. The well-used collection shows a great diversity of dishes, from appetizers and drinks, to soups and main courses, with desserts reflecting the economy of that era.
It’s fun looking at old recipes, imagining the women who prepared, served, and enjoyed the dishes. I think of the days when bringing food to church was an act of love, knowing somebody there would comment and ask you questions about your recipe, connecting you the way good recipes do.
After reviewing the index cards one by one, I called the church office and the volunteer receptionist shared with me his recollection of some of the women whose recipes I had admired. Most were retired and living with family members or in retirement homes, some still came to church and while not actively cooking, still managed to come to church socials and enjoy the company of church family around a common table.
The receptionist told me he remembered how such events were frequent and well-attended with an open invitation to anyone who wanted to attend. “People always brought enough for their family, and then some, so nobody left hungry.”
Maybe that’s what we’re missing these days, the sense of belonging around a welcoming table big enough for different kinds of dishes; those we know and those we are yet to taste, knowing our way is not the only way to be filled.
Grace United Methodist Church
401 Grace St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Malinda Dunlap Fillingim had the good fortune to move to her step-father’s hometown, Walnut Cove, NC when she was in eighth grade. Curious by nature, Malinda asked Mama Dunlap so many questions about her cooking that she finally gave up some of the old recipes she carried in her head. Malinda is an ESL teacher at Cape Fear Community College and lives in Leland