Taste of First still a success

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From left: Luke and Minu Durfey show off their "Fragrant Rice" to Megan Vander Laan. Inspired by the Mishkenut restaurant in Munster, Vander Laan contributed homemade falafel to the Taste of First. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

At the end of last week’s craziness, the First Church community gathered to sample a variety of home cooking

by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (March 18, 2020) – Sandy Hamer estimated the crowds were smaller than usual at last Friday’s Taste of First at First Church PCA. In prior years, the First Church foyer has been full even before the doors opened at 5:00pm, and certain dishes sold out within the first 30 minutes of sampling.

This year, the Taste of First opened on the heels of Governor Pritzker’s March 13 announcement closing all schools in Illinois, which followed his March 12 recommendation to avoid gatherings of more than 250 people, which followed a March 10 news release announcing the first coronavirus cases outside Chicago and Cook County.

As the organizer of the event, Hamer normally sees “about 200” participants, and with such short notice she felt she had no choice but to go ahead with it. Dozens of people prepare entrees, sides, and desserts for each year’s Taste, and dozens of participants enjoy socializing over the rich variety of homemade specialties.

This year’s event saw a good turnout and a brisk business in spite of the surrounding uncertainties.

Community members filled the tables at the March 13 Taste of First. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Floret (Flo) Daniels is a regular attender at First Church. She contributed some dishes from Belize—(from left) curry chicken, white rice cooked in coconut milk, and curry yellow split peas. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Pam Van Austin served up stuffed shells and meatball sliders while Nancy Van Drunen looked on, ready with a crockpot of broccoli cheese soup. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The Taste gave Village Trustee Jerry Zeldenrust an opportunity to show off his venison sliders—and their origin. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
From left: Luke and Minu Durfey show off their “Fragrant Rice” to Megan Vander Laan at the neighboring station. Inspired by the Mishkenut restaurant in Munster, Vander Laan contributed homemade falafel to the Taste of First. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Minu Durfey points out some of the spices she uses in her Fragrant Rice. The amounts and combinations are a spontaneous decision, so each batch is slightly different. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The Taste of First is a fundraiser for First Church PCA’s preschool and the PASS ministry they support. Participants buy tickets for 50¢ each and spend them inside—three tickets per entree, two tickets per side or dessert. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Sarah Rudenga (left) served chips and queso dip as an appetizer to Melissa Vander Woude’s Oreo truffles and cookie dough brownies. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
And really, what pairs better with chips and queso…
…than Oreo truffles and cookie dough brownies? (Photos: Melanie Jongsma)

This was the 11th annual Taste of First. First Church PCA is located at the northwest corner of Ridge Road and Burnham Avenue in Lansing, Illinois.