The NYC Stew Party That Only Requires An Ingredient To Join

It's hot almost everywhere right now, but in the ultimate zag, some New Yorkers are not beating the heat with ice cream or a cool cocktail, but joining it, for a continuous outdoor party centering around an ever-changing bowl of stew. Dubbed the "Perpetual Stew Club," the recurring event is the brainchild of Annie Rauwerda, who is best known not for cooking but for the popular social media account, Depths of Wikipedia, which posts interesting and obscure articles from the online encyclopedia (via Grub Street). True to its name, a perpetual stew is a pot (or, in this case, a Crockpot) of stew that cooks round-the-clock and gets replenished with new ingredients from either the cook or guest showing up for a bowl.

According to Rauwerda's website, her stew has been cooking for 37 days, and what started as a fun experiment has turned into a full-blown local phenomenon. After kicking off the stew with a group of friends on June 7th, she has moved her stew gatherings to Fermi Playground in Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood and extended invites to anyone who wants to come join. Rauwerda estimates that about 200 people showed up at her latest gathering, and if you're in the area, you can join the party too. The only requirement is to bring a single ingredient that will get added to the pot, though to keep things inclusive for vegans and vegetarians, the soup won't include meat or animal products.  

Perpetual stew is a old and worldwide tradition

Rauwerda's stew parties may have grown big enough to attract the attention of TikTok and local news, but she is drawing from a tradition dating back centuries. It was a practice of medieval inns in Europe and may have origins in 14th-century Poland. It's still carried on today across the world, with one restaurant in Thailand having been continuously cooking the same pot of stew for almost 50 years. There were even stews in France rumored to have lasted hundreds of years from the 15th century until World War 2. Besides being a good way to rescue veggies before they hit the garbage, perpetual stew is also said to develop an amazing depth of flavor from the long simmering time and a wide variety of ingredients that end up getting tossed in.

As for Rauwerda's stew, is it any good? By her own admission, it "completely depends on the day." What started as something resembling a potato leek soup has transformed into a lentil stew and a cumin-flavored bean stew so far. While Rauwerda seemingly has plans to end the stew-a-thon sometime in the near future, no end date has been announced, so you still have a chance to join in the fun and meet some fellow stew fanatics. The next gathering is scheduled for Tuesday, July 18th, at 7pm, and you can either RSVP on Rauwerda's site or show up with whatever you have in your fridge and eat some stew.