It all started one afternoon with my friend, Stephanie. We both love cooking, eating and drinking, so naturally our conversations often turn to food. “Why don’t we have a potluck supper?” she said. “Oh, that sounds fun!” I replied. Ever the (over-) enthusiast I went on to suggest, “Why don’t we make it a monthly thing with a different theme every time?” And I didn’t stop there. “We can have it at my house and I’ll cook the main course.”
Looking for a bit of a challenge, we agreed that the first potluck would be French-themed. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in France, but I’m no expert. When it came down to the wire the day before, I was still totally clueless. Who better to ask than Dorie Greenspan? After all she wrote the book Around My French Table and I was about to have nine people eating French food at my table.
Back in October at BlogherFood, I had the pleasure of meeting Dorie, the kindest, most approachable woman you’ll ever meet with a delightful sense of humor. So I felt like I could ask my new friend for advice. Among other things, she suggested her chicken-in-a-pot (which graces the cover of her beautiful new book). While the other dishes were equally alluring, I’m always going to pick the dish with four heads of garlic and sixteen shallots. But as I thumbed through the pages, I realized that her recipes were sensible and completely doable for someone like me. Some are more of a project than others, but every once in a while who doesn’t love a cooking project?
The night finally arrived and I had nine people in my small Manhattan apartment. It was such a pleasure opening the door, seeing smiling friends holding up wine and proudly handing over their dish. There was baked camembert, dauphinoise potatoes, my chicken-in-a-pot, loaves of crusty bread, chocolate mousse for dessert and more French wine than you could shake a stick at.
We only have eight wine glasses and eight plates, so I ended up with a tumbler and a tiny plate. We have only four chairs around our table so my “French Table” became more like a living room circle—some on chairs, the couch, the floor. Eventually we just bought the wine over, put our feet up and ate off the plates in our laps. People wandered back in to the kitchen to help themselves to another hunk of bread, spoonful of potatoes or another chicken wing and some jus (what my dad would call liquid gold). It was a brilliant evening and by the end of the night we had already planned our next culinary extravaganza. Up next: Indian.
Perhaps I’m not an (over-)enthusiast. I just know that when you bring good people together around food and wine, you don’t really need enough plates and glasses. You don’t even need a table. The magic is in the circle.
“The magic is in the circle” – I love that! It sounds as though your evening was truly magical. Delicious, too : – ) xoDorie
Cassie Sue says
I used to do this ALL the time when I was in college. My roomie and I would have themes and would even try to decorate our apartment to go with the theme “1950s housewife” was a theme and we wore aprons and pearls and cooked meatloaf and had people bring comfort foods and old fashioned drinks. Around st. patrick’s day it was just “Green” theme where we had salads, spinach lasagna, a green mint ice cream drink for dessert and people were super creative with what they brought.
Haven’t had a potluck in forever… maybe I need to change that.
I am kind of potluck-phobic. It’s not that I don’t trust other people to make good food, it’s that I don’t like sitting down to a plate of random, mismatched foods that don’t go together.
Perhaps, the “themed” potluck is the key! Everyone knows the genre of food, and is free to go nuts inside (a few) boundaries. I should give this a shot, and try to conquer my fear.
And FYI…you’re definitely an over-enthusiast. But, we love you for it.
Lindsey @ Sunshine and Jellybeans says
Ah! A group of friends and I used to do this all of the time! We dubbed it “World Dinner Club”, and we took turns hosting. We wrote down a large list of countries/cultures, threw them all in a hat, and whoever was hosting the following month got to draw one out. The host was in charge of the main course and everyone else brought a complementary dish (appetizer, side dish, desert) and adult beverages! It was lovely and a great opportunity to cook and taste new dishes!
Torrie @ a place to share... says
I love this post, the fact that you’re an over-enthusiast (me too!), and Sharon’s comment (I have the same fear- coming from a pot-luck loving, mismatched food family). I think the theme is definitely the solution.
I can’t wait to host a potluck now! 🙂