The only thing better than a potluck dinner, replete with comfort food and community flavor, is having one delivered to your house -- for weeks on end. Although you may not opt for dozens of hard-boiled eggs, which new mothers in China traditionally eat to regain strength after childbirth, a home-cooked chicken noodle casserole could probably offer similar results.
This continual feast has been called a food chain, food tree or simply good fortune, but regardless of the name, the process usually goes like this: During the last few weeks of a woman's pregnancy, a friend or family member will volunteer to organize others to deliver home-cooked meals after her baby is born.
Along with pertinent information from the new parents, such as food allergies or dislikes, the organizer rallies other volunteers to deliver a meal on a specific day. The delectable deliveries start arriving the day that the mother returns home from the hospital or birth care center and continue for two or three weeks. The meals, which could be as basic as a single entrée or as complex as a four-course feast, can be delivered at mealtime -- hot and ready to eat. Or, if it's more convenient for volunteers, the prepared meals (along with reheating instructions) could be delivered early in the day. Volunteers who live outside the area could have a meal delivered from a local restaurant.
Be aware that this outpouring could have unintended consequences, though. After three weeks of meal delivery by good-natured folk capable of turning out improbably flaky two-crust pies, I seriously contemplated adding another baby to my brood. Immediately.