My Book

Third Thursday FINAL


Fresh-Local-Seasonal-Sustainable: today these words resonate around the dinner table.

At the Third Thursday Community Potluck, we like to think of them as the foundation of our feast.

But mostly, we see our potluck as a table spread with good food and goodwill, where people to come together and celebrate the bounty of the moment.

Food activists living in Nashville Tennessee, Gigi Gaskins and I, started The Third-Thursday Community Potluck in June 2009 as a way to foster community and share good food. We had no idea that it would blossom into such an ongoing convivial event. Each month it continues to bring together a cross-section of folks bearing delicious, local, seasonally-driven dishes.

Imagine: asparagus spears, cut that morning, grilled and dressed in herbaceous Green Goddess dressing. Or, vine-ripened heirlooms filling a Deep-Dish Lemon-Basil-Lemon Tomato Tart. Or a mandala-like bulgur wheat salad enlivened with slices of just picked peaches, strawberries, green onions, and sweet red peppers arranged in colorful, concentric rings. Or, peaches churned with buttermilk into luscious ice cream.

We kept a journal. Over time, we realized that we had amassed a trove of fresh menu ideas and recipes that elevate the potluck dinner to something extraordinary.

The Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook serves as a repository of those recipes, stories, and inspiration for you to launch your own Third Thursday: a way to celebrate the bounty of the moment.

Structured by the month, each of the thirteen chapters offers its menu and recipes: an assembly of our favorite potluck dishes that follows a seasonal theme.

Each month has its story, too, drawn from what we’re growing, cooking, eating, advocating. In August, it centers on the figs flourishing at Gigi’s Wedgewood Urban Garden, July explores the variety of tomatoes at the farmer’s market. The talents of many of our contributors are highlighted: Terrific cocktail concoctions introduced by a visiting mixologist, a pasta-making tutorial from our Italian cooking expert, the ice cream sandwich collaboration of two earnest potluckers.

We begin in June, the month we started the potluck, and end there, with a big garden gathering. In between, we chart menus and meals, which travel the arc of the seasons. There are 150 recipes, all contributed by Third Thursday Potluckers, which run the full gamut of beverages, hors d’oeuvres, soups, stews, salads, vegetables, pastas, legumes and other grains, casseroles, breads, meats, poultry, fish, and all kinds of sweet treats.

Eat Well, Share Food, Grow Community.

Nothing is more down-home and authentically American than a potluck supper. But when this fine tradition is given southern, sustainable, and seasonal accents, well, something special happens as it does with Nancy Vienneau’s mouth-watering Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook. Not only could I virtually taste and smell these sumptuous dishes, I could have sworn I heard the warm chatter of chefs, eaters, and farmers coming together around a big old wooden table. Reading Third Thursday is the next best thing to actually being there.

Mark Winne, author of Closing the Food Gap and Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners, and Smart Cookin’ Mamas.

Time at the table with good food in reach fosters community. That’s the promise. From crowder peas with country ham and lemon herb vinaigrette to butternut squash and leek lasagna, from Chinese-Italian-American fortune cookies to Cara Cara orange marmalade, the recipes collected here fulfill that promise, drawing close a diverse assemblage of Nashville folk who understand how potlucks deliver both sacrament and sustenance.

John T Edge, director, the Southern Foodways Alliance and coeditor, Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook

Nancy Vienneau has captured the delight and deliciousness of an extraordinary potluck. Everyone will wish to be invited to the Third Thursday Potluck and with this cookbook, you ARE. The beauty of the book matches the beauty of Nancy’s prose and you’ll have difficulty deciding which entrancing recipe to try first. They all inspire you to run to the kitchen, and to gather friends for sharing!

Paulette Licitra, editor and publisher, Alimentum, The Literature of Food

A friend and I had a culinary pact when we went to potlucks, that if nothing else, at least we could eat each other’s dish. Confronted by a sea of canned soup casseroles and soggy, overdressed salads, potlucks aren’t high on my list–until I attended the Third Thursday Potluck hosted by Nancy Vienneau in Nashville. Wow. Next time I’ll go hungry. Compatriots in food, the ever-evolving group brings homemade dishes using local, seasonal ingredients. Not necessarily fancy, but fabulous and heartfelt. Now everyone can experience the potluck through her new book, Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook. Nancy has assembled the best of the best from the southern get-together with delectable recipes, tips and stories.

Jill Melton, VP editor-in-chief, Relish Magazine