The unthinkable happened at a recent gathering of The Charcuterie Club D.C., co-founder Cathryn Marcuse recalls.

“There were two people sitting next to each other who talked for four hours before realizing they worked at the same company,” Marcuse says. “That is so rare.”

In a city where strangers tend to suss out one another’s vocations within minutes of meeting,  organized food gatherings allow gourmands to drop the script and get to know each other on a deeper level.

Cathryn and her husband, Josh, started the charcuterie club (thecharcuterieclubdc.com) last February with a handful of friends and a roll of salami. Today, the group has nearly 200 members and organizes events like informal tastings, classes and sit-down dinners.

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“Food is something that you can talk about with anybody,” says Sean Morash, co-founder of D.C.’s Baseball-Sandwich Club. A food lover and baseball fanatic, Morash launched the organization last July. Roughly 15 people turned out for the first two gatherings for free-form discussions about the great American pastime — as well as friendly debates, like whether a hot dog qualifies as a sandwich.

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“Everyone has gotten along so well because it’s still the offseason,” Morash says. “Everyone thinks [their team] still has a chance.”

Nothing fuels fruitful discussions like a little booze, Jess Hagadorn has learned. The founder of Young Winos of DC (youngwinosofdc.com) organized the group in 2010 to connect with other oenophiles. “My friends enjoyed wine, but they didn’t want to talk about it like I did,” Hagadorn says.

Now with more than 700 members (and nearly 50 new ones joining each month), Young Winos brings people together for sommelier-led wine tastings, vineyard field trips and happy hours.

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“I’ve met some really great friends through the club,” Hagadorn says. “Some were even invited to my wedding. I had no idea who these people were beforehand.”

Membership for each of these clubs is free, with the occasional fee for ticketed events. The respite they offer is priceless.

“The line between work and social activities is so thin in D.C.,” Marcuse says. “Food clubs provide a great escape.”

Dig right in

Interested in joining one of the clubs? Jump in by attending one of these upcoming events.

  • D.C. Charcuterie club: Charcuterie and wine pairing at Lupo Verde, March 15. Cost: $35
  • Baseball-Sandwich Club: Sandwiches and baseball talk at Sundevich, Saturday. Register at eventbrite.com. Cost: free to attend
  • Young Winos of DC: An organized field trip to three Virginia wineries, March 29. Cost: $75, includes transportation, tasting fees and tour fees.

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