Re: Meals [was Common house design
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 26 May 2015 08:33:10 -0700 (PDT)
> On May 25, 2015, at 11:37 AM, R Philip Dowds <rpdowds [at]> wrote:
> a mid-week “Dinners for Dozens” program that not only involved a limited 
> menu, but also set the ceiling at 12 adults total (with kids, if any, at 
> another table)

This sounds very nice. If I ever get around to cooking (the most I’ve done is 
the turkey and stuffing for Thanksgiving and Christmas) I thought of caping it 
at 20. I can’t imagine cooking for  more. Even eating with more does  become a 

> With a range of arrival and departure times, it sounds like your whole meal 
> event takes a couple hours, with about two-thirds of the participants in the 
> room at any one time.  I am presuming that you serve cafeteria / buffet 
> style, not restaurant or family style.

On Monday nights diners are there from 6:45 until ~8. Late plates come in later 
sometimes. They are served buffet except salad. Salad is on the tables in large 
stainless steel bowls that are easy to pass. Places are set with cutlery, 
napkins, water glass. Pitchers of water on the tables.

Unless there are waiters—which makes a big difference--I’m a fan of buffet 
dining. When I discovered that families do it at home, I thought I had died and 
gone to heaven. I don’t understand at all why people would want to pass bowls 
along a table of 30 people as they have done here at Thanksgiving and Christmas 
for a number of years. Or even try to make room on the table for all the bowls.

In cohousing, another advantage of buffet service is that it is easier to put a 
card with the ingredients by the serving dish. Sitting in a 
pass-the-food-setting I once took something that looked liked mashed potatoes 
and turned out to be something horrible. I never figured out what it was. I was 
embarrassed not to eat it because I didn’t know who brought it. We had a number 
of guests that holiday. Another time I took mixed vegetables to find that them 
mixed with what I later found out was plum jelly. It can be hazardous.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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