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Be a Good Neighbor.

When I was growing up – in the suburbs of New Jersey – neighbors were practically family. They invited you to their house for BBQs and Christmas parties. They had a little too much to drink at said Christmas parties – together. They babysat each other’s kids for free.  And they gave you spare keys to their homes. As a kid, I practically lived at some neighbors’ houses, particularly during the summer, when both of my parents worked and I was free on vacation.

In 8th grade, we moved to San Jose, California. I rebelled, I screamed, I threw tantrums and I quickly got over the ‘cool factor’ of moving to a place that, to my junior high friends, might as well have been next door to Los Angeles. I noticed something strange: my neighbors in California didn’t invite us to Christmas parties. Or give anyone a spare key. In fact, while everyone was generally very friendly, waving hello and asking how we were enjoying the neighborhood, no one brought over pies or asked my mom to join a neighborhood committee. I couldn’t figure it out: was it a West Coast vs. East Coast thing? A neighborhood-specific thing? A people-specific thing? Or something related to the passing of time, and the concept of what being a good neighbor meant before and what it meant now? After all, the world WAS changing.

Since then, I’ve lived in a bunch of different places and I’ve noticed that neighbors are quite different everywhere. Case in point: one of my very first friends in San Francisco was my next door neighbor, who not only gave me his spare key, but let my friends crash at his place, bought alcohol at Costco for my birthday party and borrowed sugar. But there are also 8 other apartments in my building whose inhabitants I have never met, or only briefly said hello to in the hallway. The ‘neighbor’ tie between us is a weak one, to say the least.

I’m interested to know: what’s your relationship like with your neighbors? Do you help each other do yardwork? Do you cook them dinner if they’re in a bind? Do you run errands for each other? Do you give them your spare key?

Personally, I’d love to have a warmer relationship with my neighbors. I think it’s a positive thing for people, to know and trust the people who live next door. So, in the spirit of good neighbor-dom (and to celebrate the launch of the Turntable Kitchen Pairings Box), I encourage you to have a pizza party. Invite your friends. Invite your neighbors!

Wild Mushroom and Crescenza Pizza

Squash Blossom and Burrata Pizza

Whole Wheat Heirloom Tomato and Finocchiona Pizza

We’re going on a little trip next week, so please excuse us if we’re slow to respond to comments and emails (we can’t wait to read them when we’re back!). That said, we’ve prepped a few posts for you to enjoy in our absence. See you all soon!

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Posted by Kasey

Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • Your pizzas look so tasty! I grew up in the south where being a neighbor is just as you describe- keeping an eye on your place while you are gone, borrowing sugar, etc. I try to cultivate that relationship with neighbors and most of the time I’m met with a confused look. I think we’re all becoming so private that we’ve forgotten how to rely on each other and accept help. It’s harder to get to know someone these days, but when you do have the chance to make friends with a neighbor, that makes it all the more special.

  • That’s so lovely – thanks for sharing, Jess. I totally agree with what you’re saying…letting your neighbors in can be a really nice thing.

  • Brian

    I live in the city that Mr. Rogers called home so I know a thing or two about being neighborly. My wife and I live in a very diverse neighborhood in Pittsburgh PA called Squirrel Hill. Sadly we don’t have many close neighborhood friends, but our next door neighbors are awesome. The husband does work for movies that shoot in town, including the new Dark Night movie, and they both run a mexican art store.

    Every once in a while they’ll stop over with some homemade salsa, or mole rojo sauce with chicken that would knock your socks off. We try to return the gesture at x-mas with some of my wifes phenomenal homemade cookies. We have friends moving to the hood soon, so we’re very excited about that.

    Maybe for their first night in the new home we’ll stop over with your Pizza Kasey 🙂

    Have an awesome trip!

  • Thank you so much for sharing, Brian! Your hood sounds awesome and I’d love it if my neighbors brought me killer mole rojo sauce with chicken! I’d be honored if your made one of our pizzas and brought it over to them for their first night in their new home!

  • Emily

    Those pizzas look delicious! I know some of my neighbors–waving hi, chatting briefly– but it’s not like we hang out socially. However, a couple of years ago my across-the-street neighbor’s daughter happened to be staying with him and was home during the day. She noticed a couple of young guys trying to break into our house and ran into the street screaming, which scared them off. (She also called the police, who never came by the way.) The would-be thieves had managed to get one of our windows partially opened and had it not been for her, I’m sure they would have gotten in. Now that’s neighborly! 🙂

  • Nic

    I’m living in Calgary Canada and it’s funny you posted something like this today. I grew up in Nova Scotia and as you described, neighbors were friendly key giving, pie baking people who you grew up with and are still friends with today. My wife and I just built our first house in Calgary and while all the neighbors are friendly, no one (including myself) make an effort….. I’m not sure why either…. :/

  • I love this post about neighbors! We live on the side of the neighborhood with the retirees. The call us “the kids”, ha! We chat from time to time and one summer when we ordered too much mulch for our beds, we offered to do our neighbors beds across the street. The next day they brought over warm oatmeal raisin cookies! It was so special. I’ve since brought over scones and once again, the favor was returned with warm cookies. So sweet.

  • Drjannawelch

    We live in Texas outside Austin. things we share with our neighbors – 20 acres and two houses away- include homemade pizza, eggs from our chickens, honey from their bees, wine, childcare, dog watching, vinyl collections, estate sale finds, trips to the river and many laughs. We’ll try out these recipes! thank you

  • I love it!! It’s really nice to live near some older folks – they always want to take care of you 🙂

  • Hey there, Nic! Perhaps everyone is just afraid of taking the first step?

  • That sure is neighborly! The kind of stuff makes you appreciate where you live, I’m sure.

  • I read this post a few days ago, but wanted to revisit so I could leave a proper comment…I totally identified with your thoughts on neighbors! We’ve been in all kinds of neighborhoods – from the ones where you become dear friends, practically family, to the ones where it can take a full year to meet your next door neighbor.

    We’ve been in the same house for the last six years, and we already love our neighbors, but it’s just recently that the whole block has been really coming together, more than ever. I’m enjoying that so much. I’ll have to make a pizza for our next block party.

  • That sounds so wonderful, Liren! I hope to someday live in a neighborhood where the whole block gets together.

  • Pingback: Turntable Kitchen Guest Post: Za'atar Pizza | Aida Mollenkamp()

  • i love food with out food i cannot survive and your blog make me happy all recipes are delicious and simple ingredient this recipe sounds winderful…

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