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
Malinda, I am a member of Grace United Me Church and remember fondly the Taste & Tell lunches. I am also from Stokes County. My brother gave me a page out of a farm magazine which has been on my desk for at least a year thinking I would meet someone who knows you. Finally, I woke up and put your name in the computer.
Claudia Thompson Burnette says
I grew up in Grace Church and remembered preparing for this luncheon. It was a fund raiser for the United Methodist Women. My mother, Louise Thompson was best friends with Eva Ross, who’s yard was part of the Plantation Gardens where the event was held. (Eva was also a longtime member of Grace Church and the UMW.) The women sold tickets to the event and had everyone cook enough that all of the participants could taste the recipes in the cookbook. That’s how it was named the “Taste and Tell” Luncheon. My mother said it was such a success that three other women’s groups in Wilmington used it later as a fund raiser; the NC Sorosis, the Junior League and the Wilmington’s Women’s Club. I was thrilled to have my recipe featured in this cookbook. I was hoping to submit something easy that kids could do. I think I got the recipe from my Aunt Lillian. My mother, grandmother, Claudia Davis and I all submitted recipes that year. Good memories of working with great ladies, committed to the UMW, Grace Church and Wilmington.