Before you get all defensive, let me just say this: I love sharing food with people. It’s what I do. And the concept of pot-luck is pure genius. Everyone brings something that they’re into or good at, it all gets plopped on a table, and you all tuck in.
But it never plays out that way. Here’s what really happens: someone calls ‘Potluck’! and I think ‘Great!’… Then comes the dreaded and inevitable pot-luck-ruiner question: ‘so what are you bringing?’.
‘Oh, relax..’, you say. But to me, when it starts to become ‘well you bring a salad, and I’ll bring blah’, the fun spirit of pot luck just got hit by a truck.
And it always gets worse. You concede, offer a salad idea, and then get a critique. ‘Don’t forget that so-and-so doesn’t like [or can’t eat] such and such’. I’ve previously mentioned my toiling wrath for fussy eaters. You think I don’t remember what people don’t like to eat!?!? How could I when they keep telling me?!?!
So I bring a salad that I totally wouldn’t normally make because it doesn’t include an ingredient that actually makes it good, and I go to the pot luck, kind of deflated. And have to hear about everyone’s dish, and why they made it. Which again, in theory is cool. But somehow by this point I just want to eat. But someone brought a dish that needs warming up for an hour in the oven. So my salad gets limp under the dressing, my head starts to cave in from hunger, and I wonder why I ever said yes to participating. After the thing in the oven takes seemingly forever to heat, we find out an expected participant or new ‘surprise’ guest is running late. Well let’s just wait for them. Great idea. It’s a happy-go-lucky pot luck event, after all. The person suggesting we wait must have had a big lunch. This further delay is terrible news for the once-chilled seafood dish. And for my soggy salad. And for my hunger making me just wish I wasn’t there anymore.
Maybe I have an attitude problem. Probably. But I’d like to offer the following pot-luck guidelines to ensure cranky people like me are appeased:
- no committee discussions of who will bring what. Isn’t a surprise better anyway?
- the dish musn’t need to appease everybody’s ‘needs’. If a dish contains something that will kill them, or turn them into a whiny complainer, they can avoid it. Not hard.
- decide on a time, and if someone’s too inconsiderate to be on time or have their dish ready, THEY can accommodate everyone else.
So let’s see: eating a bunch of surprise dishes, people bring whatever they want or are good at, and we all eat at the agreed upon time? I’ll happily come to one of those. But if I get asked the dreaded question right out of the gates, I’ll know what to expect.