Spirited Brunchette success

Getting to know our Durham neighbors

Pineapple upside down cake at Farm Church on Sunday/ Photos by Hanna Raskin
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Every subscription dollar collected by The Food Section goes directly to the production of food journalism that helps readers better understand their world and the other people with whom they share it.

But gaining insight through food isn’t an activity confined to text. Spirited Brunch, The Food Section’s signature event, gives attendees the chance to taste the culinary traditions of local faith communities and learn the stories behind them.

When I decided to organize the first-ever Spirited Brunch outside of Charleston, in keeping with the newsletter’s expansion plans, I discovered it’s hard to explain the self-guided snack tour to congregational leaders who haven’t experienced it. But almost as soon as Sunday’s Spirited Brunchette in Durham was underway, Blacknall Presbyterian’s director of congregational care, Becky Gould, got a sense of the event.

“It was just delightful,” Gould said, relating what she’d witnessed:

After sampling Blacknall’s Brunswick stew, a callback to the days when the church raised money by ladling out saucy potatoes and lima beans to millworkers, one Spirited Brunchette tourgoer decided she’d like to visit Reality Ministries next. But that group is housed in a church about one mile from Blacknall, and she wasn’t sure her canine companion, Mr. Darcy, was up for the walk.

Seeing her fret, a pair of attendees—who hadn’t previously met Mr. Darcy or his owner—invited them to hitch a ride, even though they’d never before had a dog in their car.

You see, one of the volunteer chauffeurs said, we’re cat people.

And then they all rode off together.

Many thanks to paying subscribers who made this Spirited Brunchette possible, including by underwriting the fee for Kendall Vanderslice, who capably served as in-town coordinator in the weeks leading up to the event. We’ll see you in Charleston on April 28, 2024 for the next scheduled Spirited Brunch!

When squash gets too tough to sauté, it’s ideal for grating into cheese biscuits, according to Farm Church’s farmer and pastor. Serving it with pesto made from garden-fresh basil and just-harvested tomatoes is optional.
Reality Ministries, which seeks to forge friendships between adults with and without developmental disabilities, served chili and chocolate chip cookies.
“What kind of hamantaschen did you get?” I asked at Beth El Synagogue, my coy way of inquiring whether there were any poppy seed pastries on the table. “I haven’t seen any poppy seed,” organizer Manny Spira responded; apparently, we share a favorite flavor. (Hamantaschen are associated with the springtime holiday of Purim, but Beth El served them because Purim is a costuming occasion, like Halloween.)
The youngest visitors to Farm Church were invited to pluck purple carrots.




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  1. Avatar photoMaria says

    What fun–I hope the brunchette expands and succeeds! Trying to think how this could be exported to the many churches of downtown Chattanooga…
    I think congratulations are in order for the IACP award with Paula Forbes?!

  2. Avatar photoJohn Shelton Reed says

    It was great fun. Thanks to you and to the four communities for expanding our horizons. I hope it becomes an annual event.

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