There's more to New Jersey food than can be described in a column—or even an encyclopedia. Yet, even with an open mind, you can still overlook important food resources. That's just what happened to me with church suppers.
The Garden State is filled with church suppers and festivals that provide a perspective on the way we eat that can't be found in restaurants. Think of church cooking as a subset of home cooking—only for a few hundred people. With that in mind, I headed over to the Reformed Church of Linden where a tiny sign in front advertised a "Potato Pancake Supper." The occasion was Shrove Tuesday, or "Pancake Day," and while potato pancakes aren't exactly what the holiday refers to, they're close enough for a church dinner.
It should go without saying that any food-savvy resident of the area would assume that potato pancakes in Linden must have some association with the town's huge Eastern European community—but as I took my seat, I realized that this was the one place on Wood Avenue where Polish wasn't being spoken. What was this all about?
I asked around, but all I could find out is that the Reformed Church had been doing this for eleven years and were really proud of the meal they served. And rightly so; with potato pancakes made from scratch, slices of ham, sausages, and trays of pastries, it was a real central New Jersey celebration of Shrove/Pancake/Fat Tuesday.
This year, the church ladies peeled and shredded 110 pounds of potatoes, made an almost equal amount of ham and sausage, and baked a homey dessert platter for each table. There's no better way to get to know a town than a church supper, and no better church meal than pancakes—even when they're potato pancakes. It's one to mark on your calendar.
The Potato Pancake Supper is held once a year on Shrove Tuesday at 6:00PM sharp. Don't be late!
The Reformed Church of Linden
600 North Wood Avenue, Linden, NJ 07036 (map) 908-486-3714
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