Unformatted text preview: ry Wednesday, nannies participate in a weekly potluck between 11:30 A.M and 1:00 P.M.
The weekly potluck started after a child’s birthday party when Maria mentioned they should
eat together more often. Alicia suggested a weekly potluck, and the ritual was born. Nannies
decided Wednesday was the best day to eat together because it was a day most nannies came
to the park. Alicia set up basic guidelines emphasizing optional participation so no one would
feel unduly burdened. In the following example, women invite a nanny to join the potluck
when they see her sitting by herself:
Alicia, Linda, Julieta, Maria and I sit at the picnic table with plates of food. Socorro is
sitting on a nearby park bench watching Neil play with a toy truck. “Come eat!”
Linda called to Socorro. Socorro shook her head and mumbled that she was not
hungry. “No!” exclaimed Alicia, “Come here and eat with us!” Socorro sheepishly
joined us at the table, served herself a plate of food, and began chatting like everyone
This example demonstrates how nannies include one another in their activities; they
invite Socorro to join the group for lunch even though she has not contributed any items.
Sharing food around a table encourages feelings of fellowship and community (Fieldhouse
1986). Inviting Socorro signals that she is part of their group.
Some days, nannies share a feast of homemade tortillas, beans, salsa, and different meats
and salads, while other days they order food for delivery. One day, however, only a few
people brought food, and the “meal” consisted of crackers, bagels and cream cheese. I
commented on the meager selection food to Lucy:
“Do you think the weekly meal is dying?” I ask Lucy. “Dying?”Lucy asks
incredulously, “It’s not dying. Sit. Eat.”
When I suggested to Lucy that perhaps the weekly potluck had run its course, she
defiantly told me to sit down and gathered the few nannies who were present that day to eat
bagels. Food is both sustentative and symbolic (Lupton 1996). Even without a complete
meal, Lucy insisted that we eat together; she seemed to want to prove that the ritual was
Potlucks are often festive and lively. Nannies gossip about their boyfriends and
husbands, and offer each other advice about relationships or parenting. They also tell jokes
and funny stories. One day, when we were sitting at the picnic table, a man approached us:
“Are you all nannies?” a man asked. Marlena replied in English, “Yes, we’re the
nannies club, we’re the Super Nannies Club!” The table erupted in a fit of laughter as
the others realized what was said.
Although Marlena’s response was meant to be funny, it was also accurate. The
community of nannies functions like a club in that it is a recognizable group that meets
regularly for a common purpose. Moreover, weekly potlucks expand the image of the
lonely nanny who eats in the confines of her employer ’s home. Through their activities 286 Qual Sociol (2009) 32:279–292 togethe...
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- Spring '10
- Sociology, Domestic worker, Maid, Domestic workers, nannies, Pebble Park