If “The Potluck” were on Facebook, I would not become a fan.
Let’s just get it out there: People bring some pretty heinous food to potlucks. There are always your requisite casseroles made with unidentified ground meat and cream of mushroom soup, topped off with chips or Cheetos or something weird. (Sometimes, I secretly enjoy those.) But the worst, I think, is the Jell-o things.
I kid you not, this weekend I went to a potluck and there was a strawberry, Jell-o, cream cheese, Cool Whip, and pretzel ‘salad.’ (Who in the 1950’s decided that anything made with Jell-o and fruit constitutes a salad? Sounds to me like a Kraft Foods conspiracy to get ‘jigglers’ on the food pyramid.)
Anyway, I would love it if someone could explain the etymology of this word to me. I get that most things arrive in pots, but I need a little help with the whole “luck” factor. Maybe it’s because you’re lucky if someone actually brings something good? Or perhaps you’re lucky if you manage to leave feeling satisfied?
I didn’t say full, I said satisfied. That’s my biggest beef with potlucks—I always leaving feeling bloated and gross because I’ve tried fourteen small portions of cream- and noodle-based concoctions in order to find something I like—with or without success. At which point I usually stock up on iceberg salad with Kraft Italian dressing so that the whole evening doesn’t feel like a complete nutritional waste.
Of course when the desserts are unveiled the whole process of “find something yummy” starts all over again—usually with a better, though even more filling, outcome.
There is also a certain level of anxiety that comes with going to a potluck. Some people insist on standing by their dish and trying to “sell” it to me. It’s not a telemarketer—I can’t say no! And sometimes they plop their weird creation right on top of the precious pile of mac’ and cheese I managed to snag that actually looks good!
And then there’s the whole issue of what I brought. Are people eating it? Do they like it? Are they going back for seconds? Am I going to be the one who has to take home a full pan of food? Because that would be embarrassing.
It is too much to ask not to eat a food-collage for dinner? I just want to plan, or attend a meal that has a little continuity. Paella? Spanish wine? Manchego cheese? Yes, please.