Welcome to The Third Thursday Potluck, a monthly supper club that meets every third Thursday in Nashville, Tenn. Gigi Gaskins and I started this extraordinary potluck in June 2009 as a way to foster community. Now headed into its fourth year, Third Thursday continues to bring together a cross-section of folks bearing delicious local, seasonally driven dishes. There are no assigned dishes. No RSVP! We enjoy the creative sparks that tend to happen in a less formal structure. True to the notion of “Potluck,” there’s an element of surrender in that, but it always works out. —Nancy Vienneau
Everything comes full circle. Recently, Gigi dined at a new café, where she was surprised to find a dish from our collective past featured as the house special: Steamed Veggies over Brown Rice. The café based its version on a beloved one served almost 40 years ago at Nashville’s first vegetarian restaurant, The Laughing Man.
It conjured memories from the “way-back machine” (1978) when I was sort of a hippie chick and she a rising punk rocker. Our palates were less sophisticated then, but we agreed, that veggie rice bowl brimmed with soul-satisfaction. Today we know that it has umami—the fifth taste—“savory deliciousness.”
Tapping on a hippie theme, we thought it would fun to recreate some dishes from that time and give them boosts where needed. Gigi made “Soysage Balls” while I steamed a colorful array of veggies. I hadn’t steamed anything in ages, and I had forgotten its merits. Tossed in my Tamari Butter sauce, the veggies were firm yet tender, full-flavored and fresh.
To round things out, we cooked brown rice in vegetable broth and simmered a pot of spicy Rancho Gordo beans. We set out bowls of shredded white Cheddar cheese and nutritional yeast to embellish. Ah, Veggies, Rice and Beans. Hippie Heaven!
By Nancy Vienneau, a food writer in Nashville, Tenn.