What's the big feast in your area?
July 6, 2015 5:01 PM   Subscribe

What's the iconic "big feast" in your area? You know, the kind of thing a church supper, fundraiser, reunion, or regular old party might be built around—like oyster roasts, seafood boils, fish frys, pig pickings, cream can suppers...

The sort of thing I'm talking about is usually served very casually but is definitely a special event, either because of unusual preparation or ingredient seasonality, and there's a kind of singularity to them—you don't go to, like, a crab party in Maryland expecting there to be a chicken option. There is usually a traditional drink, usually something local and vernacular—cheap regional beer, green wine, etc.

If you can include details about accoutrements, traditions, or other scene-setting—or if you can point to great descriptions/depictions—so much the better!
posted by peachfuzz to Food & Drink (72 answers total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Where I grew up in California it was crab feeds. However, crab is expensive, so they would feed people as many courses of cheaper things (bread, spaghetti, etc.) as possible before serving the crowd, until the crowd was about to riot. The eighth graders at my elementary school had to wait tables at the crab feed fundraiser, but only until the crab was served because the beer was also served at that time, and inevitably two dads would get in a fistfight after too many beers.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 5:06 PM on July 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

There are a few types of events in my area

- Chicken Pie Supper - these are usually fundraisers for churches. Sometimes they make all the chicken pie in the church kitchen (like big pans of what is more like chicken and biscuits), sometimes different people bring in their pies (with widely varying quality). You get chiecken pie, potatoes, some sort of veggie and lemonade or coffee or water or iced tea. There are slices of pie for dessert set out on another table with whipped cream as an option. People usually eat dinner first and then go up for pie. These are usually leaf-peeping-season fundraisersand they expect to get a lot of people who may not be local. Nearly every town has one. They're in the church basement or other function room. They are $8-10 and usually are mostly the church people, many of the local seniors, and me! You sit at long tables that have butter dishes, salt and pepper, utensils and napkins. There are two seatings usually, so you can get dinner at 5 or dinner at 6:30 but you can't just show up and eat any old time.
- Wild Game Suppers - these are fundraisers, again. It's usually a TON of different sort of game meats (venison, bear, moose, goose, duck, rabbit, boar... not sure if I am forgetting any) prepared a lot of different ways (stews, meatloaf, meatballs, roasted and sliced, stewed, BBQed) with a bunch of veggie side options and a few pies. Costs more ($20 or so) and you can get a takeout box. You have to buy tickets at the door, usually a few people sitting around a cash box. The time I went to one a few towns over from me people knew I "wasn't from there" and made a big deal about me signing up to the mailing list.
posted by jessamyn at 5:14 PM on July 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

I'm from NC, and a pig pickin is a traditional special occasion feast here. The pig might be a whole pig or it might just be pork shoulders. Growing up in the 70s the pig was always cooked by men in my family, and if it were being cooked over live fire the tradition included multiple (often drunk) male relatives staying outdoors tending the cooker all night long.

My people are from eastern NC, so the correct sauce for the cooked pork consists of vinegar and red pepper and not a whole hell of a lot else. My family would serve the meat with hush puppies, slaw, boiled new potatoes, green beans maybe, cukes and onions in the summer. Dessert usually included banana pudding (made with Nilla wafers, meringue on top) or pig pickin cake, which is a yellow cake frosted with a vanilla/pineapple/mandarin orange concoction. Coconut cake is another popular dessert at a pig pickin, especially the kind that takes three days to make. Sweet tea and beer obligatory in my family, but sweet tea at a minimum.

Pig pickins are gatherings where one might celebrate a wedding, a retirement, a housewarming, etc. Very casual. Much depends on the quality of the pork and the skill with which it has been cooked.
posted by little mouth at 5:15 PM on July 6, 2015 [8 favorites]

posted by damayanti at 5:15 PM on July 6, 2015 [6 favorites]

And here's a New Yorker article about a Beefsteak from 1939
posted by damayanti at 5:16 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Northeast Wisconsin has Booyah
posted by Bonzai at 5:20 PM on July 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

Fastnacht Day! In my area, several churches open early in the morning on Fat Tuesday, with the older ladies manning the sale counter and men at the fryers. They take orders in advance, and they're in the kitchen all day long. Local tradition includes having an *opinion* on which church's fastnachts are the best.

This year, a 70-something friend gave me his aunt's recipe, which has been in his family for a long time, but hasn't been made often these last 20 years. So I made fastnachts with home-rendered lard, and THEY WERE AMAZING. You have to eat them just out of the fryer, or up to a few hours later; even on day two, they're just not the same.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:20 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

And one of these days, I'm going to make it down to Burkittsville, Md. for the Ruritan’s hog butchering.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:28 PM on July 6, 2015

I'm out in the sticks of northeast Pennsylvania. The Blueberry Festival is coming up in a few weeks. Blueberries are aplenty here. The blueberry festival consists of a bake sale featuring blueberries as the star - pies, buckles, muffins, cookies, etc. It's held at the local Methodist church with accompanying small flea market - local artists' wares and garage sale items. It's small town, friendly and delicious!
posted by Sassyfras at 5:29 PM on July 6, 2015


Here is a cute game for kids teaching you how to lay a hāngi and not screw it up.

This is a pretty good writeup with pictures.

This shot is from a hāngi I attended a few years ago, taken at the back of a marae, as the food was about to go on the rocks. The sheet protects the food before the earth is piled on. You can see the ground is black from charcoal from previous hangi in the same pit.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:33 PM on July 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival
posted by caryatid at 5:33 PM on July 6, 2015

The Mennonite high school in my hometown does an annual fish fry as a fundraiser. As you are entering the gymnasium/cafeteria you pick up a drink and a slice of pie. Then everybody sits at large community tables and servers are walking around with big platters of deep fried fish, which is all you can eat. It is (at least it was when I was a kid) a really big deal. It's not just people from the school and the Mennonite church who go.
posted by ELind at 5:36 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm used to pancake dinners at the local churches for fundraisers and things--cheap, not too hard to make for the volunteers, and you can do lots and lots and lots. The church and possibly the charity is meant to be the draw, not so much the quality of the food itself, but sometimes you'll have a variety of fun toppings or whatever to put on the pancakes.

For more of a party occasion.... barbecue. All the way. Everywhere I've lived, the go-to thing to do is to get an enormous chunk of meat and barbecue it slowly while everyone stands around and drinks (usually wine in my family) and talks. The details of what chunk of meat and how you barbecue it differed pretty dramatically from upstate New York to Virginia to Kansas to Georgia to Texas, but the essential idea has been pretty similar.
posted by sciatrix at 5:38 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here in deepest, darkest Indiana, the big fund-raising dinner these days is chicken and noodles.

Back when I was a kid, it was the fish fry. But, I haven't seen a fish fry anywhere here in several decades.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:38 PM on July 6, 2015

In southcentral Alaska, a big barbeque featuring a bonkers amount of fresh red salmon is extremely common during dipnetting season.
posted by charmedimsure at 5:39 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Ham and Bean supper! I'm not sure this is an all-New England thing or if it's just from the eastern, candlepin-bowling regions.

Also clambakes but I really think the ham and bean supper is more iconic.
posted by mskyle at 5:52 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here in Texas any small community supper or fundraiser is going to serve chicken fried steak.
posted by MsMolly at 5:52 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Clambake. My wife grew up on Cape Cod and they did that - did a trench, fill it with coals, cover with seaweed, load it with clams, lobstahs, corn, potatoes, cover with a tarp.

I've done pig roasts and invited my whole neighborhood. Lots of fun, but a lot of work. I've done it as a pot luck - you bring a side/dessert and I supply the pig and the beer. Inevitably, the men gravitate towards the spit and stand in a semicircle with their hands in their pockets. I DON'T KNOW WHY.
posted by plinth at 5:54 PM on July 6, 2015 [11 favorites]

In Texas, they also do BBQ. Get someone like this , and churn out dozens of plates of chicken or brisket. Texas BBQ is usually a dry rub, and especially for brisket, sauce is on the side.The bbq grill is usually hand made, through welding, and is on a trailer. The bigger the better. Sides usually include beans, coleslaw, and potato salad. They usually stick a piece of white bread in each styrofoam container also, maybe a little slice of onion and a pickle. Usual suspects for holding a BBQ, various churches in town, Kiwanis, Rotary Club, Masons, Order of the Eastern Star, High School Sports Booster Clubs. They are usually done by someone who has the grill, and takes pride in their cooking, and you usually know who. "So and sos BBQing for the Methodists", "Oh, good".

It's also the usual for any wedding receptions.

Beer can be there, but it's not the norm for fundraisers. These are usually take out only, grab your plates and go. Weddings can be, but not if they're Baptist! If there is a drink, say at a wedding reception, it's usually ice tea, sweetened and unsweeted.
posted by zabuni at 6:01 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Where I live in eastern Massachusetts, the mythological populist feast is a clam bake, but a proper one requires a beach and usually means having to have friends with some kind of coastal property. For most folks who don't have access to such connections, the alternative is a clam boil or a mass lobster/shellfish dinner.

Where I'm from in the Philippines, the party is called a fiesta and the principal dish is a whole lechon, or a spit-roasted suckling pig. I've visited the Carolinas and had roasted pork there and it's ... not quite the same, but close enough to make me homesick sometimes.
posted by bl1nk at 6:03 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Do chili cook-offs count? Competitors all bring big pots of chili, and visitors have small cups of each kind and vote for winners.
posted by metasarah at 6:03 PM on July 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

Crawfish season! A traditional crawfish boil means cooking the bugs in a big vat and then tossing them onto a long paper-covered picnic table where people can eat to their heart's content. This is Houston/Gulf Coast area. There is usually a summer-y beer to mitigate the spiciness of the bugs. (Lone Star would be my choice, and I am typically a beer snob.)
posted by Brittanie at 6:05 PM on July 6, 2015 [7 favorites]

I know of a bunch:

- There is a maple syrup festival in Highland County, VA, which seems pretty far south to have one, but I've been.

- Similar vein, but maybe not exactly what you're looking for, but there is a Tomato Festival the first Saturday in August (I think) in the city I grew up in. My dad won best tasting several years in a row.

- fish fry Fridays - Catholic churches around here (St. Louis) during Lent. I haven't been, but my neighborhood is VERY Catholic, and I see signs in lots of yards around for various church fish frys (fries?).

- pancakes - the church I grew up attending hosts a pancake meal after each mass the weekend before Fat Tuesday. My dad ran it for ... 20 years? 25 years? A long time. Pancakes, link sausages, milk, coffee. The pancake dropper was a hit - it's a restaurant-style machine that helps drop pancakes "correctly." This was always a youth group fundraiser.

- lobster weekend - same dad, Kiwanis fundraiser. Each November, the Kiwanis club takes orders for lobsters. He and his stockbroker/golf friend/Kiwanis member buddy drive a U-Haul up to Maine (from VA), get ~2500 lobsters, stop at LLBean at 4am, maybe take a nap, and drive home. Everybody gets their lobsters from the school parking lot and there proceeds to be a huge portion of the city having lobster that night, as fresh as they'll get it all year long. My parents host a party. They get the lobsters from the same guy every year, and my dad is pretty known in the Maine town by now. This started sometime when I was in high school, I think. Maybe just after. So, 15 years?

- shrimp weekend - similar to lobster weekend, but newer, maybe last 5 years or so. My dad gets shrimp from a guy in Myrtle Beach. Less of an institution so far. Not sure what time of year it is.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 6:07 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

There are also spaghetti suppers at local churches, and I want to say I've seen a sign for a sausage dinner around, too. We live in a foodie neighborhood, very Italian, very Catholic.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 6:08 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here in Maine it's the Friday night bean supper at the church, served with red hot dogs, coleslaw and Boston brown bread (containing corn meal, molasses and raisins and baked in coffee cans).

The beans are baked for hours with molasses, tomato sauce and bacon. (Really, the bread is the big draw for me.)

I can't call to mind what the other grownups drink, but I always have Kool Aid or lemonade from a mix.
posted by virago at 6:10 PM on July 6, 2015

Dessert: cream pies as far as the eye can see.

My childhood best friend lived next door to a church that had weekly bean suppers. Her mom was burned out on cooking, so my buddy and I each took $1 and went next door for the evening meal.
posted by virago at 6:14 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Philly (and along the East Coast too) has "beef and beer" parties. Rent out a bar, charge a fixed price at the door, eat and drink all you can, proceeds go to a charity or worthy cause. This AskMe goes into greater depth.
posted by Diskeater at 6:14 PM on July 6, 2015

As others have stated, clambakes remain a coastal New England tradition in many places. We also have oyster festivals, which are more like fairs (with concerts, music, games, rides, craft vendors, alcohol) themed around the oyster meal.
posted by earth by april at 6:15 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Also common in Texas, although not as popular as barbecue or chicken fried steak, is Frito pie. (This is not the Midwestern interloper named a "walking taco". It's a big casserole dish that has been baked all together.

Note that a fundraiser or supper will be organized around a single one of these options, never two or more.
posted by MsMolly at 6:17 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh! Red hot dogs!

They seem to be a Maine thing -- I've never seen them anywhere else. Some years after my family moved there from Pennsylvania, my mom said the two things she had a hard time getting used to were a) people hanging their laundry on the enclosed porch to dry in the winter and b) red hot dogs.
posted by virago at 6:18 PM on July 6, 2015

Response by poster: Some amazing answers so far!

I want to clarify that I'm not really looking for festival/cook off-type events—unless there is a specific and singular meal-as-event associated with it. Like, a Corn Festival not so much, but a corn roast party, sure!

If it helps narrow it down, the kind of thing I'm thinking of would totally work as catering for a certain kind of casual wedding or a big party, like, the Jones' Annual XYZ Shindig. Clambakes and bean suppers and pig roasts/hangi/lechon are exactly what I'm looking for!
posted by peachfuzz at 6:19 PM on July 6, 2015

Don't they do that with crayfish in Louisiana?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:27 PM on July 6, 2015

Hoagies - the band used to make hoagies for a fundraiser, assembly-line style. I don't remember much, since I was probably 6 the last time I got drafted into helping.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 6:33 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

A Boucherie in Louisiana might also qualify. Maybe relevant Anthony Bourdain episodde.
posted by ndfine at 6:33 PM on July 6, 2015

I live in central NC, and we get all of it: pancake dinners, chicken pie dinners, bbq dinners (and we're in the middle, where you might get Lexington style, you might get Eastern style, or if you get real lucky, you'll get both), fish fries. Who does what totally depends on the equipment and cooking ability available to those who are throwing the feast (does your fire department have a fryer and does someone else have a pond to dredge, or at least a good hookup on cheap fish? Great, it's a fish fry. Are you my cousin's church where you need to make sure any willing volunteer can do the cooking? It's a pancake dinner.) We did a whole hog pig picking for our wedding, and it was epic. My grandparents' church does a twice yearly chicken pie/bbq dinner that is out of this world. Come fall in my neck of the woods, you can avoid cooking entirely on weekends if you want and eat fairly reasonably by working your way around all the church/fire department/etc fundraisers.

Two things not mentioned yet: the hot dog dinner fundraiser (a favorite for the Lions Club closest to my parents), and brunswick stew. Honestly, I hate the stuff - I hate lima beans and butter beans - but it sells like crazy.
posted by joycehealy at 6:36 PM on July 6, 2015

In Cincinnati, we have fish fries galore during Lent. Seriously, there aren't enough Fridays in Lent to cover all the fish fries in the area. There are also church/group festivals every week in the summer (St. Rita Fest, the Lebanese Festival, etc.). We have the Taste of Cincinnati in May where restaurants all over the city set up in tents and food trucks (and beer tents) downtown. We also have a really great Oktoberfest.

But the one thing I love so, so much is the Sacred Heart ravioli supper. The church has been doing it forEVER. The line just to get ravioli to go (bring your own containers and get fresh or frozen ravioli) wraps around three blocks, minimum. You have to have tickets to do the sit-down supper and you get a plate of ravioli, sauce, a tossed salad, garlic bread, and a drink. The tickets sell out super fast. The church starts preparing weeks in advance and it's awesome.

That reminds me...I need to double check the date for this year.
posted by cooker girl at 6:43 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I once went to a pitchfork steak dinner in Bismarck, North Dakota. It was put on by the VFW, I believe. They had a barrel of hot oil bubbling away in the parking lot and they stuck the steak on a pitchfork and then lowered it into the oil. You would tell them how you liked it cooked, and they'd bring it back up when it was done.

Then they put it on a plate which you took inside, helped yourself to some side dishes (corn, green beans and rolls) and sat down to eat. The steak was divine. Pie for dessert. It was a really fun event. It cost something like $10 per person and beer was extra at $1 each.
posted by Kangaroo at 6:56 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

In Australia, I reckon the big thing is a sausage sizzle/barbecue. Barbecue is a very different thing from the Southern US style barbecue, which marinates meat and is heavy on sauces and flavourings. Barbecue in Australia is pretty much just the method of cooking - on a flat griddle or grill outdoors.

Sausage sizzles usually involve cheap sausages rather than fancy ones, placed diagonally in a slice of white bread, grilled onions optional (but tasty), table at the side with giant squeezy bottles of tomato sauce, mustard and BBQ sauce. Hopefully serviettes. So it looks like this. Slightly fancier sausage sizzles might include a couple of kinds of sausage or vego options and wholemeal bread as well as the white bread.

Not only is it a staple of school/church fêtes and fundraisers, but every weekend there are fundraising sausage sizzles outside Bunnings (a big chain hardware store) and election day sausage sizzles are pretty much the only perk of standing in the queue to vote. These may be accompanied by a bake sale stand with lamingtons, custard tarts, biscuits etc. It's also a pretty traditional thing to do on Australia Day, Grand Final day, random get-together with friends. But still somehow iconic.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:57 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Minnesotans seem to like Lutefisk Dinners around Christmas. Many Lutheran churches sponsor them. For the non-lutefisk eaters, they often serve Swedish meatballs. Fish fries abound during Lent at the Catholic Churches.

Our politicians sponsor Corn Feeds--free corn-on-the-cob in the local park accompanied by political speeches.

In my mother's small Iowa town, Sunday morning made-to-order omelet breakfasts by the Lions Club draw everyone in town--and their visitors, because they are on holiday weekends. You plan your arrival depending on when church ends--arrive with the Catholics and Methodists or after the Lutherans. The next town over has a similar fundraiser, but with Belgian waffles. Church soup suppers (with pie for dessert) are popular, too. Homemade soup & homemade pie are hard to beat.

Our suburban volunteer-on-call fire department has a Booyah feed, as do many others around. I went to the Randolph (MN) Fire Department chicken dinner one year, along with what seemed like everyone else in five counties. Quite an event, with the fire/rescue equipment that had been purchased with previous proceeds on display.

One local church has a Christmas cookie walk--1500 dozen cookies they sell by the dozen. Cookies are made by the parishioners. Turns into a "cookie run" when the doors open and they limit how many dozen you can buy.

I would definitely go to a chicken pie supper.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 6:58 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Churches on Prince Edward Island have lobster suppers.
posted by brujita at 7:02 PM on July 6, 2015

I'm in the Chicago area. There are loads of fish fry nights around here, especially during Lent.
Spaghetti dinners and pancake breakfasts are the big fundraising meals near me.

Chicken-and-beer dances are very popular fundraisers downstate, especially in the towns near St. Louis.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:07 PM on July 6, 2015

A big thing in southeastern New England that doesn't get a lot of play elsewhere is a fish fry or fish and chips supper. Where I used to live in SE CT, there were several to choose from, almost always on Fridays - the Stonington, CT Portuguese Club had one (nice story), the Mystic Fire Dept had one, the Pawcatuck VFW had one, I'm sure there were more. Typically these meals cost around $5 and for that you get a plate of fried flaky white fish, some potatoes (either french fries or roasted), some coleslaw, a hunk of super sweet New England cornbread, iced tea/lemonade/coffee, and sometimes a dessert like coffee cake. Also, some places include chowder. I don't know why these are so localized, but probably because the communities are both traditionally fishing communities and also largely Catholic, so eating fish on Friday is a convenient way to observe the meat fast.

Wisconsin is also home to a big Friday fish fry tradition. I got to take part once while visiting, and it was amazing.

In New Jersey and really throughout the MidAtlantic, you occasionally get a crab boil - blue claw crabs boiled with Old Bay and hunks of sweet corn and potatoes. These are very festive - you spread paper over the tables and plop a roll of paper towels on the table, give everyone a mallet and some drawn butter and off you go.
posted by Miko at 8:02 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

For more inspiration on this, you might want to check out America Eats: On the Road with the WPA by Pat Willard. She used the WPA travel writers' archive of food events in the 1930s and went back to the locations to see whether the festivals/traditions were still going on. MAny still were.
posted by Miko at 8:03 PM on July 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania do a surprisingly good run on pirogie dinners, made (if the place in question has any pride at all) by the church ladies. You'll occasionally find a church that's just selling pre-cooked Mrs. T's, and I feel certain that if the Judgment Day comes, the lord's gonna smite them heathens right down. Good places will sell them either frozen or boiled up with spoonfuls of buttery sauteed onions, about between six and eight bucks a dozen, and worth every damn penny.

Friday fish-fry fundraisers are still alive and well in Northeast Ohio, too, all throughout Lent, and occasionally beyond.

Southeastern OH and Western PA both do a lot of spaghetti dinners as fundraisers, in my experience. They serve spaghetti, red sauce, sometimes meatballs, and garlic bread.
posted by MeghanC at 8:05 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Driving through Wisconsin recently I saw several signs for brat fries, including one apparently hosted by a hardware store. You don't actually fry the bratwurst, in spite of the name; you simmer it in beer and then grill it.
posted by ostro at 8:21 PM on July 6, 2015

In "my" part of NJ/PA the hoagie fundraiser is definitely a thing, yes. Here's a news story, with video (and many bad puns); helpful because it lists what ingredients go into the hoagies they make and shows them being made. Not much in the way of traditional sides other than coke and some chips though.

I never encountered a crab boil (or Old Bay seasoning either) till we moved to the Maryland area, where it is the most popular.
posted by gudrun at 8:47 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yes, we take our Fish Frys seriously here in southwest Pennsylvania. If you're in the area of Pittsburgh during Lent, you'll want to consult your map to ensure you're hitting all the best Frys. In addition to fish, many will feature handmade pieroghis, strapačky and/or halušky and golumpkis.

Additionally, we are strong supporters (and possible originators) of the wedding tradition known as the Cookie Table. My lovely boss, who comes from a large Scandinavian/Italian-American family, will not infrequently arrange to leave early on a Friday before the wedding of yet another niece or nephew so that she can fulfill her auntly duty of baking forty or so dozen lady fingers, Russian tea cakes, pizzelles, and pignoli amaretti, among others.
posted by notquitemaryann at 9:13 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

When I was in Sweden, people seemed very into crayfish parties in the summertime.
posted by three_red_balloons at 9:31 PM on July 6, 2015

Feasts I've experienced and where I experienced them (I can't always say if they're just limited to these areas):

Omaha, NE: Pancake feeds, there was a man in this area you could hire who had an as-far-as-i-know proprietary invention that was a 20 foot long griddle with a pancakebatter reservoir mounted so it slide on a track above the griddle. He could move the batter reservoir down the griddle and it would squirt evenly sized and spaced batter dollop, 3 or 4 at a time. When it's time, he flips them all by hand extremely quickly. It is a feat to behold. Apparently he has a website: http://www.pancakeman.net/. You would go through a line and be served butter, sausage, applesauce, and OJ or coffee by volunteers.

We also do spaghetti feeds and fish fries during lent in Nebraska.

Tucson: tamalada, or tamale MAKING party, where you also get to eat them. These happen all over the west and southwest or anywhere with a Mexican community.

Cusco-region, Peru (often small or rural towns): truchada or pollada, which are trout or chicken feasts respectively. They are often fundraisers for schools, community groups, or other local causes. The truchada would usually be floured and pan-fried/grilled and the chicken usually roasted, you might also have BOTH at the same event and often happening in conjunction with a dance/live music, fair, or sport game. People can buy a ticket for a plate and receive the trucha/pollo served most often with roasted whole potatoes, possible a section of boiled corn on the cob or loose boiled corn kernels (these are the big white andean corn variety), and possibly some salad (either shredded lettuce plus a little lime/onion, slice of tomato OR ensalada rusa/russian salad which is boiled and diced beets-carrot-potatoes dressed with a mayo sauce). There might be one of several kinds of pepper or herb sauce to spoon on, called aji. There will likely be liters of beer for sale to be shared and chicha, Peruvian fresh-fermented corn drink, and soda.
posted by dahliachewswell at 9:45 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Northern California, grillin'/wood smokin' tri-tip.
posted by moons in june at 9:47 PM on July 6, 2015

Up in Washington State if there's a big to do with food it's a Salmon Bake. Often with crab or razor clams depending on the season.
posted by brookeb at 10:26 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

I agree with brookeb - in Washington it's traditionally a Salmon Bake. Possibly accompanied by a slew of shuck-your-own oysters, as they do every year at Burning Beast.
posted by leitmotif at 10:58 PM on July 6, 2015

To add to Athanassiel's contribution of sausage sizzle I'd add firstly that my country's unique feast is horrible (as I described in my ask ages ago when I was involved in putting one on) but also that it's becoming more and more of a feature of State and Federal elections. Most polling booths are in some kind of community space, a school, a church, a hall, or something, and more and more often the people who run it sell sausages to voters (voting is compulsory). On twitter you can find whether your local booth has a sizzle under #democracysausage, and some clever people have been mapping it.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 11:23 PM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Here in Australia it's a BBQ. There will at least be sausages and steak, but the iconic thing is prawns. (The sayings "throw another prawn on the barbie" or "don't come the raw prawn with me" exist for a reason.)

To drink there must be beer. In many circles, home brew. Wine is common but optional, but there will always be beer.
posted by lollusc at 12:22 AM on July 7, 2015

Ireland, it's a BBQ. They are special because our weather is shit so the days on which you can BBQ are celebratory. Beer is the required beverage. Sorry it's not a more exciting answer.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:51 AM on July 7, 2015

Lutefisk dinners at a church (usually a Lutheran church) are common in the Scandanavian-settled eastern half of North Dakota too. Fargo is also well-known for Pancake feeds.
posted by AzraelBrown at 5:18 AM on July 7, 2015

Here in Northeast Florida, there are a couple of major iterations of this, almost all centered around seafood:

- oyster roasts (shuck them yourself, eat them on a cracker with lemon juice and hot sauce)
- clam chowder cookoffs (Minorcan/Spanish style; we're a former Spanish colony, after all)
- fish fries (preferably mullet), and
- blue crab bakes

We'll also get crawfish boils, but in my experience they're somewhat less common here than they are over on the Gulf Coast and elsewhere in the Deep South. Because it's the South, barbecue is pretty ubiquitous too.
posted by saladin at 6:32 AM on July 7, 2015

Grafton, Mass has an annual Apple Pie Social.
posted by alms at 6:37 AM on July 7, 2015

Rural English weddings can be heaven for pork lovers. Outdoor hog roast with locally brewed cider, mmmmmmmm.
posted by stuck on an island at 6:53 AM on July 7, 2015

The Sertoma Club of Lancaster, Pa. hosts the world's largest chicken barbecue.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:15 AM on July 7, 2015

Around here (Georgia) pig pickin's are definitely an event; here is a good AskMe about putting one on. Another big food-centric event is cooking a big pot of low-country boil (AKA Frogmore Stew). Yet another is a fish fry, ideally with freshly caught catfish, bream, and/or crappie. I also have connections to Texas, where making a big batch of tamales can be a party of sorts, especially around Christmas.
posted by TedW at 7:44 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Reno's would be the Great Rib Cookoff!

posted by harrietthespy at 8:26 AM on July 7, 2015

Booyah is mentioned above and I think it's also one of those things that happens in St. Paul, not Minneapolis. It was a popular fundraiser dinner on the east side near Wisconsin when I lived there. Now that I live in Minneapolis I'm not sure what they do around here.
posted by cabingirl at 8:42 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Northern Rhode Island does dynamites. They are like a sort of spicy sloppy joe mixture, served on a white bread roll (like a short sub roll). Here's a recipe. They are great for political fund-raisers and church events because they are cooked in giant pot and ladled into rolls, and then served on paper plates.

I have lived in New England for 25 years, and the only clambake I have ever been to was a wedding rehearsal dinner on the Cape. (It ruled, and I would be happy to attend more of them.) Another New England thing is a meat raffles as a fund-raising event, which blew my mind the first time I went to one.

cabingirl, the only booyah I've been to was in Pine City. Someone in the Twin Cities on my FaceBook feed posts about them a couple times a year, though.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:30 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I ate a lot of Low-country Boil / Frogmore Stew as a kid in South Carolina. Usually shrimp, sausage (andouille or kielbasa), corn, and red potatoes, with a packet of seasoning thrown in the pot.
posted by fluffymag at 10:37 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

During mating season the grunion fish use high tide to deposit themselves on the beach. When the water recedes they make babby before the tide brings them back out to sea. There can be thousands of them, and going to watch the grunion run is a popular activity.

It's legal to catch grunion as long as you do it with your bare hands so people do and then they feast. The TV show Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman did a segment on the grunion run at Venice Beach.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:17 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Sons of Norway hosted fish boils in my hometown, which were always a big deal. Looks like at least one other Wisconsin town with a sizable Norwegian population had them as well. Cod, overcooked vegetables, potatoes. Pie.

I think this particular tradition is probably on its way out as the generations get further removed from Norway. The 25-year-old article linked above notes that the crowd was older, and that was definitely the case for the fish boils in my town, too.
posted by SugarAndSass at 9:10 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

In New Mexico, this is usually posole; that's what the University serves on its big Family Night dinner. Usually there's a pork version and a vegetarian (and kosher) version. Giant pots of it, biscochitos or tres leches cake (which you can get from some of the local bakeries those big picnic-style sheet cakes) for desert.

For fundraiser dinners, weddings, etc, usually it's enchiladas. They come in giant pans; you usually get a choice of cheese or chicken and red or green chile. Usually there are sides of beans and rice. Sometimes it'll be tamales instead; those are particularly a Christmas Eve tradition. If there are multiple dishes available, one of them will probably be green chile stew.

I think these tend to have stayed popular in part because they all have a "meat version" and a "vegetarian version" without doing any substitutions and they're all (except the biscochitos) gluten-free, so they don't have to make too many special considerations for dietary conditions.

I can't think of a singular drink for these, though they might sometimes have seasonal aguas frescas and/or horchata. That's more just a thing that changes seasonally than a thing that's available at this kind of dinner thing, though.

As far as scene-setting is concerned, it's generally socially appropriate to wear jeans to this kind of thing, as long as they're nice. Throwing on a bolo tie with a collared shirt is fine. We're a pretty casual state (or at least Albuquerque is a pretty casual city), so you always get this great mix at these kinds of events of high school kids wearing suits with tennis shoes, little kids in pretty new dresses, and adults wearing everything from "going to the opera" type dressiness to the button-down/nice jeans combination. ("Going to the opera" for other places, I mean. People wear jeans to our operas, too.)
posted by NoraReed at 10:27 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

In western Kentucky, it's a stew called burgoo. Traditionally, everybody shows up to the party with an ingredient, including multiple types of meat, and it never comes out quite the same. Ideally, it's cooked over a wood fire outside, while kids run around and grown-ups sit and talk. It's the standard fare for church suppers, political events, etc.
posted by bookish at 10:57 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Others have mentioned tamales but I wanted to mention that at Christmas in particular the entire city goes on a tamale bender, including the requisite "best of" lists and local news stories.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:38 AM on July 8, 2015

Central/upstate NY has the chicken barbecue fundraiser. Parks around the area have long pits, and local clubs and schools have roadside metal trailers, more or less built to the original cooperative extension instructions. Salt potatoes are an older, but exceedingly complementary tradition.
posted by zamboni at 10:24 AM on August 2, 2015

Barbecue and catfish are probably the most common ones in Arkansas.

(And, not really my part of the state, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Gillett Coon Supper.)
posted by box at 6:15 PM on August 2, 2015

« Older 3 photo frame landscape - natural wood   |   exposure + contrast = contrast + exposure ? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.