What is Friday Night Meatballs?
Friday Night Meatballs is a way to try to get back to basics, to strip away the need for perfection and satisfy the need for community. It started in my little rowhome in Philadelphia, when my husband Joe and I decided we needed away to connect with our friends and neighbors. We were both overworked and stressed—him at the office, me as a freelance writer and editor. We rarely had time to schedule playdates for our daughter Lucia, who had just turned four, and when our childless friends invited us for nights out, we had to hire a babysitter or just decline. I was a raging extrovert working long hours alone in a home office. Joe missed exercising his talent in the kitchen.
So, on my thirty-third birthday,
here’s what I told my Facebook friends:
So here's what Joe and I have decided to do, in my 33rd year, to make our lives happier: we are instituting a new tradition we call Friday Night Meatballs. Starting next Friday, we're cooking up a pot of spaghetti and meatballs every Friday night and sitting down at the dining room table as a family—along with anyone else who'd like to join us. Friends, neighbors, relatives, clients, Facebook friends who'd like to hang out in real life, travelers passing through: you are welcome at our table.
We'll just ask folks to let us know by Thursday night so we know how many meatballs to make. You can bring something, but you don't have to. Kids, vegetarians, gluten-free types, etc. will all be taken care of. The house will be messy. There might be card and/or board games. There might be good scotch. You might be asked to read picture books. You might make new friends. We'll just have to find out.
This is our little attempt to spend more time with our village.
We were overwhelmed with responses.
Friday Night Meatballs grew into a weekly ritual, a comforting, relaxing, energizing cross between a Shabbat dinner, a salon, and a playdate. When I wrote about it for the blog Serious Eats, the article went viral. Facebook comments, emails, and recipe requests poured in. We heard about Friday Night Meatballs in New York, Malaysia, the Ukraine, India, even Gaza. It’s not just about meatballs (though Joe’s are pretty amazing)– it’s about getting together, so cook what feels right for you!
It turns out people around the world are hungry for a sense of community!
If you’d like to start your own Friday Night Meatballs (or Taco Tuesday or Sunday Supper or whatever works for you), you’re in the right place. Read the article for hosting tips, check out Joe’s recipe, or let us know what you’re cooking up by submitting a photo. You can also pin your own event to the Meatball Map! We even made some Tshirts on CafePress—if you’d like to contribute to our household ground-beef-and-tomato budget, please order one for your next gathering.